Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's That Wet, Cracking Sound?

No, not the fallen branches underfoot in the woods this time of year - something else...

Oh, it's the first of October and that sound must be the hearts of those millions of northeasterners who have decamped to Florida and Texas and Arizona and similarly horrifying places over the last couple of decades.

Places with climates congenial to achy joints, and also to man-sized reptiles and hand-sized biting insects.

Places famous for poisonous snakes and developers; flat, flat places with shallow-rooted vegetation that does not change color in the fall.

If I had been born in another century, and on the other side of the sea, I think I would have been the sister who stayed: Bridie, alone, by the peat fire in the cottage. The letters would come back full of the marvels of New York and Boston and Milwaukee and Toronto and I would look at the green grass and the mist and think, "I still would not trade."

My brother in Dallas will ask again this winter, when I am complaining about making no money, and driving over an ice-coated road through the dark in a sideways snow storm, why I don't move to a real place? My sister in Florida will tell me in February about 82 degrees and no humidity.

But they don't have Fall, a proper Fall, in Texas or Florida and I couldn't bear to give it up. Nor spring for that matter. And while we're on the subject, winter is hard here, but it has its rewards (bright days, hunkering down during a quiet snow storm, snowshoeing and skiing through a world altogether different from what it will be six months later) and our Summers are like gold. And in the Fall, of course, at least for a few weeks, just about every place you look is so beautiful... Maybe that sound is my own heart breaking for sight of it.