I almost missed autumn. I keep forgetting to go outside. I start the day with great intentions but then I lose track of time and before I know it, it’s dark. It’s not like I’m overwhelmed with work or busy doing other things. Still, my time goes somewhere. My weekend visitor wanted to go for a walk so we threaded our way through the cornstalks in the back field and hit the cart track that passes for a path over to the island.
There were still some cornhusks on the stalk, some half-eaten by the local deer, others hanging on, defying the odds. The colours were remarkable, the bright yellow standing in sharp contrast with the muted browns. The juxtaposition of life and death came to mind. Death has been on my mind a lot lately. That, and growing old. And wondering. And I’ve learned that wondering, if unleashed, can be quite debilitating.
When the leaves started turning a few weeks back, social media was awash with memes telling of how they were about to teach us about letting things go, of how the autumn colours point to the beauty of change. There’s a word for it in Lithuanian apparently – rudeneja – used to describe how nature and/or the weather begins to feel like autumn. It’s my favourite season. I’d happily swap ten summers for one autumn. Some years ago, I took a road trip from Halifax to Boston and the colours of a New Hampshire autumn were gobsmackingly gorgeous. This year, I stepped into my backyard – Kányavári sziget.
We walked. We talked. We enjoyed the silence. It was dark when we made the turn to home, the only sound that of the leaves we were trampling underfoot. There was no one else around. The flashlight app on my phone steered us clear of the puddles and the ruts and after a couple of near spills, we made it back to the cornfield and home.
The Kis-Balaton is a place of beauty. When you stand beside it, looking across the water, it’s up close and personal. When you go up to the hills of Zalaszabar though and look down on it, it takes on a whole new perspective. A little like life. Sometimes we have to pull back, to retreat, to step away from a situation in order to see if for what it really is. I’m learning. And I’m grateful for the lesson.