I remember a friend of mine talking about the “autumn of her life”.  She was aging.  In fact she was dying.  The doctor had diagnosed her illness and offered palliative treatment with no hope of turnaround.  She took the message of “six months to live” and sat down to write a book.  It turned out to be a large essay of about 40 pages but it was her gift to society in the midst of her departure.   I received a lovely bound copy of her effort and heard her voice in the words as I read them. 

We have just entered “autumn” here in this province.  It’s not quite October and the month of September has been incredibly kind, almost summer like.  But two days ago now the autumn season arrived with a vengeance.  The wind had a chill to it.  The outside garden needs to be covered every evening.  Jackets are required when going outdoors.  The leaves have quickly turned and many have begun to abdicate their places on the trees and fall to the ground.  There is even some talk of snow in the next week.  The smaller birds are long gone. Something’s told the wild geese it’s time to go so their vee shaped flocks dominate the sky.  School is long back in, the next event to look forward to is Thanksgiving. 

This transition is more than climate.  It resonates down into my soul.  There is sadness as something warm, and beautiful has moved into the past.  I hesitate to dramaticize by calling it “grief” but I do “grieve”.  It’s gone.  And I do shudder at the next season.  Winter is not easy.  Once here and fully ensconced it is bearable, after all we are Canadians.  But it requires some bracing in order to be able to absorb and enjoy it.  By December I will have accepted it and embraced it but right now I shudder as I see it coming. 

So?  That’s right.  “So” is always a good question.  For some the idea of hibernation is the answer.  Retreat, cocoon, and curl up until next spring.  For others the idea of engagement is paramount.  Find a winter hobby.  Cultivate a snowy lifestyle.  For me, it’s somewhere in between.  I’ll bring out the snow shovel.  I’ll hang a few storm windows.  I’ll pull up some garden plants that are asking to be relieved of their distress.  I’ll look for the box containing mitts and scarves.  I’ll check the anitfreeze level in the car.  I’ll replace the furnace filter.  And I’ll adapt. 

I am reminded of the hymn writer’s verse “summer and winter, spring time and harvest, sun moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness, to thy great faithfulness mercy and love”.   That verse is a “faith” statement to sing  as I struggle through the autumn season.  I’ll get there. It’s going to take a while, but I’ll get there.