I really want to talk about autumn, but I’m afraid I can’t do this season justice. Neither can I ignore it. It won’t let me. You see, I count my years, not in the cold winter of January, but with the advent of September and October. I’m sure it’s a by-product of being a teacher. The start of each school year sings with new beginnings. The unscheduled haze of summer fades as new rhythms and routines curl slowly into concrete form until I can trace their patterns with my eyes closed tight. Fall means comfort and reliability even as it means a chill breeze bringing change in its most pleasing form.
I’ve been taking a long look at the trees each morning as I walk into school. I’m not sure what species they are, but these trees have mastered the art of transitioning gracefully. The sun hasn’t quite peeked over the branches yet, so the golds and oranges are softened by a mist which hugs the soccer field, and geese fly overhead as black silhouettes against a rose-gold sky. I slow my steps so my caffeine-deprived brain has time to realize that this warm rainbow of color is a good reward for being awake at this ungodly hour.
Today I teach 7th grade. This class is the pile of leaves swept gaily into small flurries by an October breeze. The chaos of it all is heartwarming in a way I’ll never fully understand. These students come in every day spilling over with rambunctious curiosity, bearing stories of Latin words found adorning pizza boxes and making appearances in episodes of Spongebob Squarepants. One sweet boy has no qualms about loudly proclaiming his love of prepositions, and every day he tells everyone how he decided to highlight every prepositional phrase in his favorite novel. Their enthusiasm fills me with joy, and I realize how much I love them in all their quirky weirdness.
Monitoring lunchtime is a gift in its own way. Along with the noise of 80 students attempting to talk and eat in the same breath, it brings conversations and inside jokes with two wonderful women who have years of teaching wisdom to share. We end mealtime with a break outdoors to soak in the late morning light. I make sure no one suffers a major injury playing soccer and touch football, and standing on the edge of the soccer field I see the trees from this morning shining in even brighter golden glory.
Driving home is at its most enjoyable in October. The classic rock and country music of summer have been moved to the side as I work through a list of wonderfully hipster indie music. My relief at the close of another workday is amplified by the afternoon sun beating upon the rusty leaves overhead. The world slows down and the passing foliage falls into rhythm with the quiet music playing in my car. It’s now that I feel all the beauty of autumn insisting upon words from me. But even my best ideas seem cheesy and cliche. I know I’m not the first to realize how beautiful the dying world can be. I remember the poem I posted near my desk at school, the one that talks about the wonder of a world always reminding us to rediscover her beauty. I remember my favorite lines at the end. I repeat them to myself, and I open my window to feel the chill breeze.
Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.