Ordinary time

Kousa fruit

It’s an irony I’ve long noted. My favorite season is also a time of year I’m especially busy. September has flown by, with Fall semester starting at the beginning of the month and the past few weeks devoted to settling into a new school year, new students, new routines.

I love autumn because the days turn brisk and the afternoon light turns golden. The changing foliage is a bonus: it’s the low-angled light itself that I love, as it tricks every object it touches with glint and glory. In September, the days grow shorter, making me increasingly mindful of every last minute of sunlight. By November, the landscape will gleam like beaten bronze, but right now everything is gilt and golden, precious and precise.

In late September, the trees are laden with fruit, overladen with abundance. This year’s crop of acorns is percussive, falling from the trees with the urgent alacrity of a child’s pellet gun. How many times have I been startled on my way to or from our backyard dog-pen by the sound of acorns crashing through leaves and cracking on the pavement below as if cast off intentionally by short-tempered trees.

Thoreau said “Our lives are frittered away with detail.” Oh, Henry, you don’t know the start of it. This past month has been frittered away with class prep, due-date juggling, and so many student papers. Always, perpetually, there is so much to do, and so little done, while the whole earth keeps turning, unfazed.


Autumn is my favorite season, and November is my favorite month. Whereas September and October are bright and brilliant, November is gray and messy, with fruit ripening to mush and leaves descending into decay.

The morning after

Last night felt almost like the Before Times, with herds of children roaming the streets, in some cases accompanied by attentive and even costumed parents, and in other cases roaming free and unfettered by adult supervision. This morning, the sidewalks are littered with stray candy wrappers, and lawns boast the crumpled remains of inflatable ghosts and monsters, ready to go into hibernation for another year.