He was sitting outside his home on a tiny patio, wearing a fedora and smoking a cigar.
He had a portable music player sitting beside him, and he looked as if he was enjoying the September sunshine about as much as anyone could.
“Good afternoon!” I said as I passed.
“Good afternoon!” he agreed.
I don’t smoke, but I like the smell of cigars. My grandpa smoked a cigar occasionally, and the smell of cigar smoke reminds me of my childhood. In fact, all of September reminds me of childhood.
I see yellow buses carrying kids to school and wonder how it is possible that school buses look so much the same, after all these years. I feel the same need for a new pair of shiny shoes. Autumn says that we should be putting on our new, shiny shoes and getting out our freshly sharpened pencils (remember that smell?) and heading off on adventures.
I actually bought new boots this fall. I’ve never had Dr. Martens and so I got myself a pair. I love them. My husband, Peter, says I look like Frankenstein – but I know he means that in the nicest possible way. With my new Dr. Martens all laced up, I feel as if I should be racing off to catch a yellow bus, or sharpening some pencils, or at least picking out some fancy new notebooks.
But there is no bus to catch, no new class starting. My life – as pleasant as it is – remains very much the same, while all around me, the season is signaling that big changes are coming.
I’ve often envied birds, who have a much busier social calendar than I have ever had. They arrive from who knows where in the spring, scope out the neighborhood build a house, raise a family, leave the neighborhood, and are back on the road by fall, headed off to parts unknown. By comparison – even with the occasional trip to Mexico – my life seems very dull.
Then there are butterflies – who aren’t even butterflies until they decide that’s what comes next. They build themselves a cocoon and show up, looking like another creature entirely in a few weeks’ time. It doesn’t seem quite fair, buying a new pair of boots and trying to compete with that kind of transformation.
But although any transformation I attempt will pale beside the butterfly’s, I think there might be something hard-wired within me that says in the fall, “Now is the time to get ready!”
“For what?” I can’t help but ask. And when I don’t come up with a ready answer, I feel frustrated. Surely, I should be busy growing wings or, at the very least, storing up a winter’s worth of acorns. Instead, I walk around in my shiny new boots, and I wonder if I shouldn’t be doing something different – even if it’s less ambitious than learning to fly or stockpiling enough food to live on for six months.
And then I think about that fellow with the cigar and wonder if he isn’t on to something.
Because it is going to get colder and certainly less pleasant than it is today. This is as true of autumn as it is of life. Any reasons I might have had for delaying doing things that sound like fun sound pretty foolish in the autumn.
I’m glad I bought those shiny new boots. I don’t think I’ll take up cigar smoking, but I’m going to try very hard to do something new in the September sunshine, something fun, before it’s too late.
Till next time,