I was sitting at my desk in my home study this morning, contemplating a long checklist of tasks attributed to my (currently virtual) college education, when I was struck by how perfectly autumnal my life seemed to be at that moment. As a matter of fact, allow me to ditch the past tense for the present, because I feel very autumnal at the time of this article as well.
My current state of being as I type these words is the following: I am wearing a much-too-large flannel shirt over a turtleneck, with fleece leggings and two pairs of socks. Outside my window are a family of scarecrows, posed amongst a bed of yellow crocuses. The weather app on my cell phone tells me it is a perfect 66 degrees under a clear blue sky. In other words, ideal fall weather, at least for Virginia. A 10 out of 10. I have a sufficient number of fresh gala apples in my refrigerator; and a host of flavored teas to treat myself to in the evenings, including Celestial Seasonings' "Cinnamon Apple Dream" (an appropriate flavor for this time of year). I also have a candle on my desk, to add a little extra coziness to my workspace. To put it plainly, I am pretty well spirited for the month of September.
Is it just me or has the arrival of fall been a little more cherished and appreciated this year?
I truly don't think it is just me. Speaking from my own experience, virtual classes have had a lot to do with my mindfulness of the changing seasons. Last year at this time, I was a senior in high school, spending nearly eight hours, five days a week, indoors. I simply didn't have the ability to take a morning walk and witness the miracle of the leaves on the trees changing color, because I was in school. I didn't have the time to thoughtfully decorate my home for Halloween, because I was only home for a few hours each day.
This year, however, I have started college in the midst of a pandemic and things are a bit different. My classes are online, and I am not living on campus. I'm at home most of the time, and while this situation has the potential to be slightly monotonous, I really don't see it that way, because being home has also helped me be grounded and more rooted in the observations of my surroundings. Now that I am home at times when I used to be elsewhere, I have begun to notice beautiful things I was too busy to ever take note of before. The way the morning sun slants in the kitchen differently, the way it gets dark earlier, the way the classically summertime noise of the locusts has been replaced with the early-autumn sound of crickets; all of these things I can appreciate now.
Now I can take that nature walk in the woods, I can decorate for Halloween (and have already done so), and even when I'm studying I can steal a glance outside and watch a squirrel bounce around in the yard, or maybe even see a deer or two. And I am grateful for this.
So to all of you whose jobs, schooling, or health concerns keep you "stuck" at home, I hope you will discover the same thing I did. I hope you can find mindfulness this season, and whatever other good things you need. What it is you are looking for in your life, I don't know. But one thing I do know is that you have the spectacular experience of autumn right in front of you, and believe me, that's a wonderful thing.