At the acme of any cycle – the seasons, the moon – a sweet poignancy holds us in thrall. Like a carnival ride that shoots us to the top, where we pause for the briefest of breaths. And then we begin the free fall into the next cycle.
The fall equinox, September 23, will hold us for just such a moment between waning summer and waxing autumn. It is fall, not spring, that quickens my step, dawning each day with excitement and anticipation.
It is that feeling of anticipation I’ve experienced since I was a kid… Fall has always meant new beginnings… one year older and a brand new school year.
It is also that time of great fishing and hiking, the saddle between summer and winter, the off-season. It is a miraculous time. In the burnished light of autumn, people seem to walk around in a daze, as if internal springs have loosened, less tension on them.
Up here in the mountains, where seasons have distinct personalities, we stretch out into fall, savoring every moment of daylight on hikes and walks through aspens lit up from behind as the sun goes down. Fingers of yellow and gold inch up gulleys in the turning of autumn. Nights grow imperceptibly longer, pulling us toward close winter nights indoors.
We preserve summer’s bounty so we can enjoy fresh tomato sauce or squeaky green beans at our winter dinners. It’s a genetic thing in humans as in animals to store up for the winter. Cravings for bacon and heavier food signal an ages-old physical preparation to add bulk against the cold. Bears do the same thing, filling up for their own dark winters. And squirrels scurry, stripping myriad pinecones of precious seeds.
Out come parkas and hats, ski equipment examined, dollars counted for new gear or a visit to yard sales and consignment shops. Cross training is in full gear, to be ready for opening day on the Mountain.
We take trips in this interim time, lying on beaches, traveling to spots all over the world or across the country. They provide perspective on our lives and businesses, a chance to fill up on theater, music, museums, to spend luxurious time with friends or relax with a good book. Because returning to Mammoth, whether by car or plane, causes an intake of breath, a sureness that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.