This year, there was no gradual transformation from summer to fall. Autumn has come early and it came quickly. It seems we went to bed one night while it was summer and awoke the next morning to fall. The days are shorter, the nights are cooler and the leaves are quickly turning colour. The summer warmth has been replaced by cooler days and cold evenings.
Fall has its own beauty. It is breath-taking to drive down tree-lined city streets with leaves of red and gold simmering in the sun. There seems to be renewed energy as we all try to get in those last few days of coat-free weather before winter sets in.
This has never been my favorite season, mainly because I know we are quickly heading into winter. Bringing in produce from the garden, emptying flower pots and raking leaves are melancholy reminders to enjoy those last few days before winter winds start to blow.
However, my Dad loved this season. When I think of autumn, I see my dad raking leaves and stopping to lean on his rake to tell me how this is his favourite season. That picture of him is ingrained in mind forever. He loved fall. He enjoyed the change in weather from the hot days of summer to the crisp, clean air of autumn. Perhaps fall was the only season he really could take the time to enjoy. As a farmer, spring was busy with calving and seeding, summer with all the demanding work of farming, fall with its tension-filled days of harvesting, and winters meant cold days of feeding cattle and getting things ready for spring. However, in the fall, he had a break in his workload once harvest was completed. It was then that he had time to enjoy nature and to appreciate fall days before winter set in.
My dad died in fall. The anniversary of his death is this today, September 27. At his funeral, my older sister and I noted that his life ended in the season he loved, and how fitting that was. As we buried him, red and gold leaves flew, and the air was crisp and clean. Birds were gathering to begin their long journey south. Harvest was done. Dad’s work was completed.
Over the years since he passed away, autumn is when I feel closest to Dad. It is when my memories of him are the strongest. As I complete my fall chores, my mind races back over the many autumn seasons I enjoyed with him. Without fail, every year when colourful leaves blow across the yard and the air turns cool, in my mind’s eye I see Dad, leaning on his rake, wearing that old flannel-lined denim jacket and Elmer Fudd cap, with a look of complete satisfaction on his face and with peace of mind, telling me once again that fall is his favourite time of year.