Autumn is the ending time when the clutter from the year’s activities settles and a stepping back naturally occurs. It is a time of preparation for silence and stillness, a time when warm blankets are shaken out and short pants put away. It is a time to hang herbs overhead on strings and grind spices for small jars. It is a time to gather wood and chop kindling; to buy cider and harvest pumpkins; to find boots in crowded closets. It is a time to gather seeds for spring gardens, to dig out bulbs and put them to rest in dark cellars.

The fading light rouses my unconscious from its summer slumbers and like a great blind beast it rises, stretching its cramped limbs, and struggling for expression. In autumn’s cool starry nights, I dream fantastic dreams in which the living and the dead again dance in long gowns in underground palaces.

I dream of Mimi the Cat and cannot discover where she has hidden herself, then finally find her laughing under the stairs with Roxanne. I see the mother standing in the doorway looking at me with needy eyes while the old father, gone now more than fifty years, smiles and waves.

I smell the sharp scent of burning leaves and turning see my children dressed for Halloween, eyes bright and expectant. I reach out, wanting just one more time to hold their childhood selves but they slip, with laughter, through my arms and I am left with fingers twined in fog.

When I wake, like the fairy princess, I wonder where I have been and why my shoes are worn. Autumn is the dreaming time of year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, when we can leave our bodies and journey in our minds. It is the time when the distinctions are blurred and past and present merge. It is the time to make peace and ask forgiveness, to lie back and be willing to receive, the time to contemplate endings and surrender.

(pictured: Moonrise 2004 by Marie Taylor)


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