I grew up in a country where autumn wasn’t fall, not as I know it to be now. The trees I befriended didn’t lose their leaves over winter. Bar one species, which didn’t exist where I was raised, this transformation of the natives was the domain of those that existed in the faraway sub-tropics. Even then, it wasn’t winter that signalled such a change, it was the coming of the wet season. Growing up, I didn’t ever experience the panoply of golds and reds that many others had, other than for the smattering of introduced species that sided roadways and peppered gardens.
This all changed when I left my shores and headed to the northern hemisphere, where I have lived the rest of my life, to date.
There is something beguiling about such change, something that captures the eye, drawing it to drink, with great thirst, its subtle impermanence. It is mesmerising to watch nature in such gentle play, and it urges me to reflect. In the past, it has moved me to write:
Gold and Red Soon, so soon, gold and red will flutter from heights to dampened earth And enfold the words I have Before the storms arrive ... Personal - 2020
Yet, there is a side to living this change that obscures.
A few years ago, I learned that over eighty percent of the information that reaches us and that finds its way through the filters that exist in our minds, is visual. Our attention is naturally drawn to what we can see with our eyes and, unless we are aware of this, unless we actively seek that which lies beyond this sense, we miss what else we can experience.
This morning, as I sat in the crisp-scented stillness of the chilly pre-dawn and closed my eyes, I realised something that had escaped me.
Fall doesn’t sound the same.
I understand the science behind this loss, but such understanding doesn’t take away from the realisation of what I have missed by being drawn to the colours I can see, by paying so little attention to all of my senses. I really should have known better, given the experiences I have had in the past. Times where, in other contexts, my complete focus was on the taste of a ripe tomato, the scent of a fresh rain, the feel of damp earth on the bare soles of my feet, and the gentle rhythm of a child’s breath in rest. Such attention takes resolve.
This evening, with great gratuity for this awareness, I chose to walk an unlit, leaf littered path, and to simply listen in peace to fall’s euphonious voice while I still could.
Fall, indeed, doesn’t sound the same.
The last pages of this poem are turning and, soon, the book will close, shrouded by the silence of the snows. With senses fully alive, I welcome what this brings.