(For my sporadically-routine seasonal mixtape.)
Reflections on Autumn (in lieu of liner notes)
Autumn comes differently in different places. I talk a big talk about missing the Northeast, waxing nostalgic for days pulled from yearbooks, turning leaves, the glowing orange of sunsets creeping earlier by each passing day, blankets spread across fields, with leaves crunching under the weight of recumbent bodies. And I do miss all of that. It’s irreplaceable, really. Especially if one is lucky enough to experience this picaresque autumnal scene amidst the backdrop of a collegiate campus. (“There’s just something about…”) Returning to Texas manifests a whole other level of appreciation for Autumn. I recently remarked over beers in mason jars that to have lived through–nay, suffered through–a Texas summer is to comprehend despair. To wake up to brutal heat and oppressive humidity, and live with it well past bedtime. If we could be awake all hours of the day we would know it doesn’t actually leave. It’s a good thing we sleep, because then we can hang on to a glimmer of hope that maybe the weather changes at night, but just not conveniently to our sleep schedule. And it’s that. Day after day. The lawn dries up. There’s the annual cycle of water emergencies. Summer in Texas is like Winter in the north. No one wants to leave their homes because the sun, the heat, the humidity has piled up outside (like the snow) and it’s just easier to stay inside, turn the air down, and wait till it passes.
When Autumn comes to this latitude, I find myself responding as I do to the impending summer when I’ve lived with Yankees. The lows are in the fifties–we’re no where near the first frost yet. The highs are in the eighties–maybe even 90. And that’s jeans weather down here. Fall means pants with flip flops and t-shirts down here. Sweaters and scarves are still a thing of hope (“the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul, / And sings the tune without the words”) and yet, it’s enough. It’s enough to be able to sit outside; it’s enough to ride with the windows down; it’s enough to pull the pants off the shelf and leave the skirts on their hangers for a while.
I’ve been thinking about transformation and change a lot lately. It’s a deeply theological thing — to talk of change, to be transformed, to wish, hope for change. Isn’t that what life is all about, after all, to seek to be transformed, to seek to transform the world around us? To risk relationship that we might be changed by them, to open ourselves up that we might walk away knowing more about others, about ourselves, and about God in the midst of all things? The coming Autumn sends my thoughts down this theological path more than any other seasonal shift (even more than Spring, but not by much). The air itself changes. I feel different. The clearing of the air; the change in temperature over the course of the day–I feel it to my core. I feel lighter, more in touch with myself. To personify the weather (an overwrought analogy perhaps, but it’s mine), if summer is the season of heat, exhaustion, oppression, then Fall is the liberation from that, it is the release of the sweaty work of merely being outside.
It is hope.
Oh My God — Ida Maria
Colors — April Smith and the Great Picture Show
Heretics — Andrew Bird
Academia — Sia
Little Lovin’ –Lissie
Where You Lead — Carole King
Me and Julio — Paul Simon
T For Texas — Felice Brothers
Blue Sunshine — Blue Giant
Good Man — Josh Ritter
Learn to Live with What You Are — Ben Folds
Mr. November — The National
Devil’s In The Jukebox — Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs
My Will Is Good — Port O’Brien
Kandi — One EskimO
Nothing But The Whole Wide World — Jakob Dylan
I Was Made For Sunny Days — The Weepies
Dance With Me, Now Darling
Son of a Preacher Man — Over the Rhine
Timshel — Mumford and Sons
Hungry Heart II — Lucy Wainwright Roche
Sweet Disposition — Temper Trap