"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Friday, October 1, 2010

Indian Summer


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.

26 comments:

Jan said...

beautiful.

M said...

I loved this!! I guess because I'm contemplating my own season in life, your words hit me where I needed them.

Love you
Mark

Lilith said...

I've been feeling the same, restless and itching to do something that will bring me peace, not sure at all what would bring me peace even. I think that's what I've been looking for my whole life.

Fifty-nine is not too late to be flourishing, it sounds about right. Thank you for the lovely post.

Tabitha Bird said...

Indian Summer- sounds like a good title for a memoir!

I love the way you see the world. Makes me want to fly too.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting on my post- THIS IS WHY I WRITE. I am blessed to know you and your words of support always lift me. I am like that little girl you once were standing in the field being lifted by the wind.

Wanda..... said...

Lovely read. It's so much easier to find peace and contentment with a little age on us, Deb.

Kathryn Grace said...

Little kids remember what it is to fly, don't you think? I know I did. To this day, I cannot stand on the edge of a cliff without thinking I can take off and soar. Always have to plant my feet firmly on the ground and be careful not to forget! Thank you for a beautiful post.

Flourish! Fly!

Wanda said...

I haven't had a flying dream in a while. Perhaps this will spur one. I hope so.

Terri Tiffany said...

Wings push against the skin of my shoulder blades like new teeth breaking through, LOVE this phrase! Seasons always affect me too. I dread the winter months even here in sunny Fl--and usually in spring, I do something to change my life!
Did I know you are from the NW? So is my daughter--I see it is chilly there today:)

Linda Myers said...

What a lovely post. I, too, am in the autumn of my life, and without regret. There is nothing more beautiful than a fall day, if I keep my mind on just that day.

Lorna said...

"One of my first childhood beliefs was that the wind came to me bearing words of wisdom and comfort and hope." Love that; me too. Fall is so beautiful, haunting in its beauty. Thanks for capturing that!

Patti Lacy said...

Deb, you wax poetic.
Healing can never be too late, can it?

See, I am doing a new thing....
Have so missed this place!!!

Patti

kario said...

This is lovely. And, as Dr. Seuss said, "Don't be sad that this is over. Be glad that it happened at all."

Love you.

Suzy said...

Gorgeous post. And the waiting is worth it.

Love you
Suzy

Linda Hoye said...

I love this post, and I love the idea of an Indian Summer life....

Sandi said...

Wow, so much of what is here in your writing, is inside me, trying to get out. I'm thinking of autumn in a whole new light. I've been loving these days as well. I also loved the lemonade set post and could see your radiant smile!
Love you Deb,
Sandi

Kathryn Magendie said...

restless . . .yes . . .

this is so beautiful, as always---you should gather all these together and publish them in a chaptbook so all of us can buy it and read your lovely words when we need to hear them.

Kathryn Magendie said...

PS I told my son about how I was meeting you and one other friend I met in blog land (Judith Alef - do you know of her?) and how I didn't want him to feel uncomfortable so I'd go meet y'all for coffee or whatever - and, he is truly my son - he said, "Mom! Invite them over to eat or have coffee or something!" I thought that was sweet - anyway - once I get there, we will plan to either meet for coffee somewhere or dinner or lunch or you come by and meet Norah Kathryn or -- well, we'll figure it out!

Carrie Link said...

"my ears hear that mine is an Indian summer..." wow.

Just lovely, and true!

Amber said...

Every bit of this is so beautiful I read it over three times.

"And this year for the very first time, my ears hear that mine is an Indian Summer life."--

Wow.

:)

Katie Gates said...

Beautiful!

Carol............. said...

Your talent with words just never ceases to amaze me...

That photo is lovely.

Elenka said...

Every word you said is exactly how I feel...except the Idaho part of course. Autumn to me is so bitter sweet, knowing that that 'death' part is coming.
It is beautiful, though.

Jerri said...

It is nothing close to too late.

Lately, every book I've look at on Amazon has shown the same book on "Readers who bought this book also bought..." Finally checked it out yesterday and found that "Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" was written by a 70-year-old first time novelist. And it was sold as the first in a series.

Yours is an Indian summer life, indeed.

sallylwess said...

This was beautiful! I'm thankful that I can enjoy the autumn of my life, but the gift of an Indian Summer, now that is something to treasure.

Jessica Nelson said...

I love that definition, and how you've tied it to your life! Beautiful. :-)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"the Big Dipper taking summer into the north and Orion bringing winter from the south."

Lovely essay. Flourishing. Indian Summer. The goose waiting to migrate. Cheers to growing wings.

I highlighted the quote above as lately I've watched the Big Dipper sinking early in the night. The scorpion also, falling under the horizon. Anticipating Orion's appearance for the winter. Beautiful piece.