The Good Life – Reflections on Autumn

Fall has always been my favourite season. It brings back so many childhood and adolescent memories of southern Alberta, such as scarecrows in the fields, huge harvest moons hanging in the sky, and sewing and safety-pinning Halloween costumes with my sisters in our bedrooms. And today in Vancouver was one of those classic fall days, a joy to the senses. There was a coldness in the air, as fresh and crisp as biting into an apple picked directly from a tree. There was a faint smell of wood smoke on the air and the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, as I walked my dog through the park at six-thirty in the morning. Just about everyone I talked to during the day had some comment to make about the perfection of the weather.

Of course, things aren’t always exactly like this in Vancouver. As likely as not, there is a whole string of very wet and windy days waiting for us around the corner of the calendar. The rainy season will begin very soon, and it will last for weeks and months on end, with only brief interruptions. During this time, the smiles of many people will fade and be replaced with stoic grimaces or looks of outright depression. The commentaries of the media weather and news people will be peppered with descriptions of the lousy weather we will be experiencing. In general, most of us will clutch our coats tightly about our chests and soldier onward through the wind and rain, waiting for the next perfect day.

Lately, I have been wondering about the descriptions people have for the weather. Why do we classify sunny days as good and wet, rainy days as bad? It seems so strange to attach such black-and-white adjectives to a thing as complex and elemental as weather. Although I have frequently been guilty of it myself, it seems to me this sort of thinking is more than a bit faulty. Wouldn’t we be better and happier people if we could learn to appreciate every type of weather? Should we not learn to enjoy cold, rainy days, for instance, for the beauty they provide us? Think of rain drumming on a rooftop or dripping from the needles and branches of a pine tree. Think of the joy that toddlers get from splashing about in puddles. Wouldn’t it be better if we reclaimed some of that joy for ourselves?

And, while we’re on the subject, perhaps we should reconsider our feelings to some of the other things that we find unpleasant or fearful. For example, perhaps aspects of existence, such as sickness, loneliness, and sadness are more than states of temporary suffering that we must get through. Are they, perhaps, invitations and doorways to a richer and deeper understanding of our lives? It’s something I intend to think about more often as the autumn days pass into winter.

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