Fall has always been a difficult time of year for me. Pretty leaves only fall and blow away; Halloween is an unappealing and stupid “holiday” and I dread the most superficial of holidays in the United States, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The weather is getting cold; the days are short and the nights are long; the Minnesota Twins have usually wound up another disappointing year; the birds fly away; the garden is done; and I, normally a perfectly happy morning person, reluctantly drag myself out of bed at the beginning of the day, because it’s pitch black outside and my body wants to keep sleeping.
And every fall I whine like this and even feel disdain toward people who exclaim, “oh, fall is my favorite season! It’s so pretty!” and “The weather is so nice and cool!” and other idiocies. (Barf.)
In short, throughout the fall and until mid-January or so, every year, I feel bitter and resentful toward the cold Minnesota weather and Whichever Being forces us to endure this. (Autumn has always seemed to provide the the most inarguable evidence that Whichever Being doesn’t exist, anyway.) My bitterness and resentment pretty quickly make me depressed. And every year I know I’ll feel like this when about mid-October kicks in.
It was a fall day in 2011, just a year ago, that I was bemoaning the loss of another delicious summer and contemplating my dread of the cold and snow, when I happened upon a fact that no one else would be able to persuade me of. I was standing sleepily in the shower that morning, washing my hair with my eyes closed, when my eyes popped open and I thought:
I have actually planned to be miserable this fall. I’ve fulfilled my own prophecy of hating autumn and feeling depression settling in.
Then I bravely ventured:
Knowing how stupid I am, could I perhaps fool myself into planning to not mind the autumn months, and find something good about the season to help myself endure it less miserably?
Then I rinsed my hair, stepped out of the shower, got dressed, packed a thermos of coffee, and went to work.
In the next few cold, gray, drizzly days, I realized how much more time I had in the house with my cats, now that the garden was done and I didn’t have to spend the evening outside pulling weeds and watering. I had a lot more time to read than I did in the summer. I got out a quilt that I’d been working on the previous winter, and sewed some pieces together. Hubby and I played cards a few times. I blogged more and emailed more of my long-distance friends. My house got a little cleaner. I survived the late fall and winter without getting depressed, not because I did anything different from previous years, but because I realized I was making good use of my indoor time while it was cold and nasty outside.
This year, I planned to do the same thing, and so far I’m OK.
What a surprise to learn, at age 43, that I have some control over my own psyche.
One thing I’m doing with my extra indoor time this fall is, again, increasing the amount of reading I can do. I usually read several books at a time and one of my current reads is Juliet Barker’s updated biography about the Brontes, Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family. It’s a bit of a monster with over 900 pages, but guess what? I can’t go outside and pull weeds anyway. There is no sunshine to enjoy. I don’t have to baby my tomato plants because I threw their carcasses in the compost last week. I have the time to read a 900 page book because it’s October in Minnesota!
I know I need to keep reminding myself that I no longer loathe autumn, and I still have to get through the annoying holidays, but I felt both vindication and wonder when, inspired by the Barker book, I was reading something online about the Brontes and found a poem by Emily Bronte that I’d never seen before. The Bronte sisters were, of course, geniuses, and I’ve always considered them friends of mine. And now Emily is even closer to my heart, as I see that, sometime in her short 30 years, Emily too devised a way to appreciate the bleakness of fall and winter:
Fall, leaves, fall
by Emily Bronte
Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
So Emily, I’ll be bringing you along for the ride this season. Let’s ask Charlotte and Anne and Branwell if they want to come too. We’ll do some writing and we’ll laugh and put on plays and argue about history and tell each other tall tales, and we could practice our French, and we could finish my quilt, and we could sit with my cats on our laps. This fall, we’ll all get through it together.