Fall is so beautiful that it makes my heart hurt. I think it must be because it is a season of contrasts. The skies are clear and bright, but the shadows are dark and deep. The days are warm, but the nights are cool. The ice that firsts frosts the deep valleys burns off quickly. The horses grow thick furry coats that make them seek the shade in the heat of a sunny afternoon. The maples are etched out in crimson on the blue canvas of sky. The golds and purples of the Black-eyed Susans, golden rod, and ironweed stand in defiance of the cold winter winds to come.
I love fall; nevertheless, I confess that there is something about its flamboyant fragility that makes me sad. I love the way the leaves twirl and flutter as they make their way to the forest floors, the way the shafts of light bend through the trees, the way the sunshine turns the fields golden. But I don’t like the crack and crunch of brown leaves under my feet—or the frosty breeze that makes me shiver on my way to the barn for morning chores. Nevertheless I linger at the barn far longer than the chores would dictate—listening to the horses munch their hay and watching the sun slip over the mountain and flood the valley with light.
Soon enough the real winds of winter will come howling down from Bald Mountain, and snow will shroud the barns and fields. The shadows will become thin as the tree limbs are framed-- bare and honest-- against a cold winter sky. The horses will seek the sun instead of hide from it. We will rush through the barn chores and stomp the snow and mud off our boots as we return to the house to the smell of wood smoke and a warm fire within.
In the meantime, we will revel in the here and now—and be grateful for the beauty that surrounds us every day on the farm. October is a reminder for us to be grateful for the beauty and bounty of the harvest and all of God’s creation. And to give thanks for the both the warm October sun and the golden glow of the winter fires to come.
By Betty Miller Conway