Last night we had our first killing frost—a full month later than normal. I had harvested the last of the zinnias yesterday, enough for two small bunches on the kitchen windowsill.
Not only has this been an unusually warm fall, but an extremely dry summer and fall. Only in the past week have a few brilliantly colored trees caught my eye. In my nearly 40 years in East Tennessee, this is just the second time I have seen the haze of wildfire smoke as a regional phenomenon.
I have been thinking about seasons. Although late—and less than visually spectacular—fall is here, and winter will come. The holiday season is upon us, and I am mulling the Thanksgiving Day menu.
But it’s more than the annual calendar that draws my attention. I am acutely aware of the seasons of the human life-cycle. Change is all around me.
This spring, we sold my mother’s house; she is in a nursing home. A few months later, our youngest son moved out on his own. Now, Nancy is helping her parents prepare for a move from large house to small apartment.
Of perhaps less significance, but still somehow looming large in my consciousness, are other changes. We will have six around our Thanksgiving dinner table this week; we have cycled through large family gatherings to just the two of us and now back to a family event. Last fall, Nancy’s artistic energy was directed toward the visual; this year, her music. Last fall, major gardening tasks drove me; this year, my shop is calling. Everywhere, I hear The Byrds singing, “Turn, turn, turn …”
I was doing some baking this afternoon, and had set my computer’s music into an autoplay mode. In the midst of my musing about seasons, I was serenaded by Jennifer Nicely singing Tom Waits’ “You Can Never Hold Back Spring.” Not for the first time, the double meaning hit me. We cannot hold onto our springtimes. Nor can we prevent spring coming again.