Friday, October 1, 2010
Restless. Edgy. Like a goose getting ready to migrate. The particular quality of light, and touch of sun that is both warm and cool, the urgent whisperings of a south wind. I feel longing, a yearning, for which there is no name. Wings push against the skin of my shoulder blades like new teeth breaking through, wanting to carry me up to join the wind in her travels.
This aching in my soul happens every year at this time, on days of unusual warmth and brilliant blue skies and air full of mysterious and unpredictable motion. I used to think I needed to be somewhere else, to be loved more, to take action about something - anything at all. Except I don't really want to be anywhere else, I am loved to overflowing, and if I've learned nothing else, I know action for the sake of movement is not going to ease the pressure for long.
One of my first childhood beliefs was that the wind came to me bearing words of wisdom and comfort and hope. Even though I could never hear the message in my head, my heart always seemed to understand exactly what was said. I remember standing in a field, little, my arms outstretched, wishing with every fiber of my being to be carried aloft and away. With eyes squeezed shut, face lifted skyward and the wind at my back I knew flying. I felt the companionable wing winds of my fellow citizens of the air. For long stretches of time, gravity released me.
Much like the spring and summer just past, those seasons of my life were dampened and cool and not ideal for flourishing growth. I approach sixty (in another year) knowing autumn has arrived, a time of glorious letting go and muted colors and surrender to the inevitable turning. Winter is next and with it death. Death, both the little dyings of loss and physical diminishment, and the big final transition, is no longer hidden in fresh green shoots or bright flashy blossoms.
I've spent a fair amount of time worrying that I found my way to healing too late. Like the cosmos I planted late in the season, waiting for the rains to let up, just blooming now. The plants are not the lush growth of summer, but the few flowers that have managed to bloom are fragrant and beautiful and perfect cosmos. It's easy to miss that in my disappointment at what isn't.
After days and days of cold rain and nights and nights of cold air, we've had a short stretch of perfect weather. I wander my trails with Toby, marveling at mushrooms and the cast of light through the branches. I go to bed at night with windows wide open and fall asleep under the warm breath of the wind billowing sheers into the room like angels' wings. I wake up in the morning and step outside into balmy air with the Big Dipper taking summer into the north and Orion bringing winter from the south.
In North Idaho where I grew up, we had true Indian Summer - unseasonable warm days late in the fall after a frost. In the Pacific Northwest where I live now, frost doesn't happen until very late and some years doesn't happen at all. But it's the surprise of summer's gifts at any time in autumn that makes my wing buds itchy. And my heart yearn. And this year for the very first time, my ears hear that mine is an Indian Summer life.
The dictionary says it perfectly: " [Indian summer] A pleasant, tranquil, or flourishing period occurring near the end of something." It's not too late. Flourishing is still possible. The wind is waiting and my wings are growing.