My neighbor’s black-eyed Susans are still vibrant. Their round black eyes are bigger now, bulging out from yellow faces. But that chroma of yellow! No human concocted hue comes close to that screaming lemon-mango-egg yoke-citrine gift of Mother Nature.
Thankfully our lavender and verbena are popping purple in this newly ordained Mum season, but the writing is on the wall for gardens everywhere. Our flowers are on hospice care.
The Autumnal Equinox arrives here at 3:21 PM today. But we knew it before it was announced, didn’t we?
One day back in August something told us the fingers of autumn were reaching into the bale of summer. A certain touch of wind, a scent, the color of a leaf, a flock of birds, maybe even a shadow cast at the wrong time of day. Though we had our summer clothes on and were soaking up the joy that the hot season brings, there was an ever-so-slight knock on the door.
Our bodies get us ready before we enter any season, even before we are cognizant of its arrival. It takes ten to twenty days to adjust from one season to the next, so 62 degrees in early autumn feels chilly even though in early April it feels like a feast of warmth. This is homeostasis, the brain regulating the body to maintain our equilibrium.
While our skin is the receptor, our brain is the barometer regulating blood flow, sweat glands, and heart rate as the seasons change around us. Right now, with autumn arriving, our blood vessels are constricting ever so slightly to preserve heat. The brain sets our thermostat to preserve the core temperature of our bodies. Homeostasis.
Homeostasis is our body’s ability to maintain a fairly constant internal temperature and biological environment even though external changes are taking place all around us. Our brains use feedback from what’s going in the atmosphere to adjusts our biology to compensate for those changes. While we may feel vulnerable to potential attacks from COVID, cancer, or Lime disease, it is amazing how well our body is regulated and able to adjust to massive seasonal changes to the Earth.
Autumnal nostalgia is a real thing upon which the commercial drive for pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and Halloween depend. It is deeply ingrained in our olfactory nerves. Higher temperatures in summer heighten the number of smells our noses receive, while cooler temperatures diminish the quantity and complexity of the odors around us. Thus, the cooler temperatures of autumn empty the stage for the aromas of Fall to dominate. They have less competition and we associate them with this time of year.
Dying leaves exhale their last breath and collectively fill the air with gases, just like ozone is released from the soil after a good rain. There are thousands, millions, dying all around us. Their crunching bodies beneath our shoes crackle the decay of lives lost. The scent of all that death, moist and fragrant in the soil, also cleaves to our memories — a lifetime of memories. Everything we remember from autumn in our childhood, youth, and longer is a ghostly presence annealed to the scents of decay. Hayrides, bonfires, candy apples, and football games all attached to the aromas of autumn. Take a moment to stop and appreciate how amazing it all is.