Last week we were forunate enough to take a last minute trip to Chicago, and my hometown in Michigan, right at the height of fall color. I realized once there, that I had not been back at that exact time of autumn for probably 10 plus years. It is a fleeting and constantly changing thing this autumn season, so ellusive. We were in Michigan about 6 years ago at the beginning of October, but that was early in the season and the leaves were just starting to change. We've been back at Thanksgiving time too and at that point most of the color is on the ground, except for the sturdy, rust-colored oak leaves that hang on until the coldest, darkest days. But this time, this first week of November, well the North was plain glorious in all of it's autumnal finery.
Rylie and I walked around the Chicago suburb of Oak Park on a bright and shiny Friday afternoon and got these shots. It was a little emotional for me because the fall season is subtle here in LA. I realize it is hard, and perhaps ridiculous to complain about weather that rarely strays from 72 degrees and sunny, but I also never anticipated how much a place, and the climate of a place can really live in your soul. So when returning to the Northern geography, where even still, the majority of my years have been spent, that feeling of fall was in my bones. The smell of the leaves, wet on the ground, the angle of the sun shining through yellow leaves. The gratitude felt on a sunny day, such as this, when, for many days before, the sky was covered with a thick gray blanket. How a smell such as woodsmoke can warm you up when the nip in the air is stinging your face and drizzle is mingling in your hair. How wonderful it is to stop into a Mom & Pop for a warm meal and to gaze into a welcoming fire. All of these things I miss.
I was thinking of our climate here in LA this weekend, and sort of had a new idea - a new thought about the weather. Instead of focusing on the lack of variety outside, I could choose to notice and appreciate even the most subtle of changes here - for instance, the light. The light changes everywhere and it does here too. It is well on it's way to being dark at 4:30 in the afternoon these days, and that feels decidedly autumnal to me. And the wind. I can conciously notice the shift in the wind and when it gets blustery, which it certainly does. I could stand at my window and watch the trees sway in the wind for a while. Perhaps that's why it is called a WINDow. Have you ever seen a 100 foot skinny palm tree sway in the wind? It is amazing how elastic they are. And when we do get rainy days (because they are far more common this time of year) I could choose to treat them as snow days, staying inside - curled up with a blanket, a hot drink, and a book. Sounds like a good plan heading into this colder stretch of the year.
The last photo there was taken in the front yard of my childhood home. I want Rylie to know seasons and what is happening in the natural world as the earth moves round the sun. It will just require this Northern girl a little extra thought to do so in Southern California.