The raindrops were falling on my windshield as I was driving through endless Manitoba fields coming back into Saskatchewan.
Parked combines and tractors with grain carts were following me with their sad, turned-off lights as if they knew that a few more weeks and then they will be put away again for a long and cold break.
Golden and almost shining from within straw bales were greeting me with the last sun touches of the summer along the highway. Playful, light greenish hay bales were shameless, but pitiful reminders of how bright these fields used to be not that long ago. Fluffy canola swaths, cozy and soft, were almost inviting me to come closer, sit down and sink in what looked like long comfy couches, weaving on the sides of the road.
Dark-brown cleaned lentil and peas fields appeared here and there, serving as a proof of the harvest progress. A few more weeks and nothing but corn and sunflowers will remain standing. A bit longer, and all crops will be gone. And the gorgeous Prairie landscapes will once again turn into a dead, plain desert waiting to be covered with a white indifferent blanket.
Clouds, heavy and low, soon turned into an endless mercury river floating over my head. In that grey world, the first yellow leaves on the trees all of a sudden became unbearably bright.
Instantly the picture came together in my head. I realised, that’s it. Summer is over.
It’s this time of the year again. The pause time. It is almost here. A few more weeks and the fields will be completely naked, awfully empty and done. A little bit more and here and there will be cow herds heading home for winter. The pumpkins will appear in the yards, serving as catchy reminders of the Day of the Dead and the time of the year around it. And then the snow will come.
I know, it is weird to think about winter at the beginning of September, but that’s when I actually start sensing it. It’s the time when nature around us slows down, freezes and then stops completely. The fall comes as an overture for winter, which gradually claims its rights. First, nights get colder, then mornings and evenings claim more hours filled with chilly dew and deceitful twilights. And finally, mornings pretty much start meeting nights in the middle of the day.
It’s the time when nature takes a break. It hibernates, refuels, gains energy to start over in the spring.
We learned how to cheat the world around us. We have electricity to stay up even when it’s dark and to be able to work days and nights. We have fuel to keep us warm despite the time of the year. We figured out the ways to be anywhere we need to be despite the weather (snowstorms and tornadoes still close airports and highways sometimes, but it’s so minor). We live our lives the way we want it, often ignoring the natural circles that existed way before innovations. And that’s awesome. But the little reminders of how we used to be are still here.
So, while I was driving, I started thinking about how often when the fall comes, I hear that people around me feel different. Work sometimes becomes unbearable, and the evenings turn into little personal escapes when many of us try to cuddle with a good book or a movie, or just a cup of tea or cocoa and do nothing. Some people just keep going without their regular enthusiasm, others become a victim to a morbid devil, but one way or the other most of us sense that something is different.
I often feel unusually slow throughout late fall into winter. When fall comes, I feel like it’s time for a break. I want to slow down and hibernate until spring. I want to do less, talk less, think more and write more. I want to put my life on pause and just sleep.
Usually, when it’s cold outside, I never feel like coming there and catching those cold wind kisses, those mortifying hugs and freezing touches. Wake up, look around, eat something and go back to sleep. Doesn’t it sound like the best plan for the fall slash winter season? Not that any one of us can actually do this in the world the way we built it, but it still sounds so sweet.
And as I was looking at nature around, reading its first fall accords getting almost lulled by this calm symphony, I thought that the feelings I had about the world around actually were a reflection of it. It was almost like an instinct or common sense, suggesting that sometimes it is priceless to slow down, take a break and regain forces to start over fresh when the time comes.