Saturday, October 14, 2006

An Atypical Attack of Seasonal Melodrama.

It's now mid-October, and we have had our first freeze here in Pennsylvania. It's time to remove the air conditioner and drag out all the layers of clothing that were cast off six months ago. Of course I hate to dwell on the prospect of winter's coming, but the inevitable cycle continues in perpetuity. So what does it mean? Besides all the practical considerations, there are the alterations of mood and mentality that accompany seasonal change. The compulsion to engage with the raucous energy of Spring makes me live an external life. Conversely, the first freezing pangs or autumn remind me that there is a time for introspection.

As the layers are taken up to protect us from the cold, there are parallel social barriers to contend with. The easy affability of the outdoor barbecue is replaced by the cloistered insularity of the potluck. We take pause and measure our resources, before committing to engagement. To some degree our decisions carry a greater weight because our options become limited. Our time spent with others is spent indoors, and that requires a complete absorption into the host's habitat. The neutrality of the outdoors is no longer available. Interaction becomes a much more intimate and personal prospect. For some, that type of intimacy is just too overwhelming. They will spend their time in their own nest, and disappear until March.

I enjoy the window into alternate worlds that visiting other folks' homes provides. I certainly make careful considerations before choosing to venture out, but I usually appreciate the resulting benefits. There's something about the home-field advantage, or lack of it, that intensifies relationships. But I also enjoy spending a lot of time in my own carefully constructed environment. I'll spend a lot of time watching films and reading books in isolation. Whatever weekly routine I can carry through the change in season will provide me with the necessary palliative to cabin fever. I'll make a serious effort to continue these forays, struggling through the icy limbo facing me on the other side of my castle gate. That's how I'll make it through winter. But we aren't there yet, are we?

Fall is a time of transition. Around the end of October we drop our inhibitions and act out our own particular decadences, as we join our circles in ritualized indulgence. We don our masks, and guiltlessly rejoice in the fruits of the summer harvest. For we know that the hard and barren times are approaching. Nature's fierce withholding is nearly upon us. Hopefully we have squirreled away a stash to get us through... but until we have to turn inward, we will celebrate our abundance in fevered recognition of transience and mortality.

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