How many times have we all heard someone gush, “Fall is here!”, “Oh, I LOVE fall!", “Fall is my favorite time of year!” It is a season worthy of the highest praise, to be sure, and certainly one of my most favorite things.
After the past few challenging and intensely clarifying years of the pandemic, savoring our favorite things has become even more essential, it seems.
This morning I was determined to catch one of the last balmy sunrises that promised to illuminate a now crimson, brown, and amber landscape. I strolled through the neighborhood at dawn to a clearing on the edge of town, the one with a long view where you can watch the sun rise or set over a modest hill dotted with rooftops and treetops.
I found myself intentionally slowing down my steps so as not to rush past something noteworthy in an unnecessary hurry. My senses started to plug in one by one as soon as I shifted gears…the cool and confident breeze on my skin, the Valencia blush spilling over the horizon announcing the arrival of the sun, the countless flocks of chatty starlings above me traveling back from their nighttime roosts to begin a new day of foraging.
I stopped to patiently await the first beam of sun blazing over the horizon, determined not to miss this coveted reward for waking early.
It was a full five minutes of standing still before more subtle details came into focus, like the repeating pattern of spider webs reflecting the early light as they lay criss-crossing the ocean of perfectly manicured grass. How busy all the tiny creatures are - doing their most triumphant work while we sleep. It was a dazzling masterpiece that made me smile. It’s amazing what slowing down for an autumn sunrise can heal. This was the most presence and peace I have felt in a long, long time.
After drinking in long sips of the sun’s first rays...
I offered a few sincere sun salutations in return and sat for a moment on the grass to breathe and blossom under the hint of warmth now eclipsing the cool morning breeze. I have found nothing more soul nourishing than moments like these.
Soon after I continued my stroll to another expanse of field and was welcomed by an adolescent grove of trees. They, too, seemed grateful for the warmth of the morning sun. Their tiny branches just big enough to wear a humble cloak of leaves, offering the most gentle rustle to any mindful passerby.
With each wave of their cheerful hellos, I was drawn in closer to touch them, as I often am. I studied their shape and colorings, as I often do this time of year and felt the familiar intimacy that only comes when I am alone with the trees. I inspected the crisp injuries from the early and hard freeze a few evenings ago that has drained many of them of their lively color. Looking at the evidence up close now, I knew that fall had turned a swift and solemn corner and was headed down the road in the direction of letting go. Soon the winds of the north will blow every branch clean.
A quiet panic began to set in as I started to do the math and realized I had miscalculated the number of days I would have to enjoy the full spectacle of my most favorite time of year. Did I bathe in this autumn enough to carry me through another year? Or had I squandered some of the most magnificent days running pointless errands or staring many minutes too long into the abyss of my laptop instead of heading out of doors. I conclude I did a medium job this year of savoring and this stings a little as my personal failure washes over me.
And then I heard a question in my head from me, to me, asking, “How many falls do I have left?”
Well into my fourth decade, best case I might have another forty falls left to love. I noticed this carries more weight with me than measurement in years because the word year doesn't tug at my heart strings quite the same as the turning of the leaves always does. And if odds are not in my favor, I may only have five to ten falls left to love in my lifetime, or maybe this was even the last one I’ll ever know.
When my dad was my age, he had only thirteen left. I can only imagine he would have slowed down and indulged the desires of his heart a little more if he knew he was counting down from only thirteen. I most remember the brilliant maple trees that fall when he died. It was a showstopper of a year. Truly brilliant. The incomparable towering yellow maple on the lawn of the funeral home. The bright crimson maples lining the streets of my parents’ home. I brought fistfuls of leaves home that October that are now carefully tucked away in a keepsake box serving as a time capsule of the last time two of my favorite things were alive at the same time.
I walked home as the sun reached new heights, replaying how I would have chosen to spend these last fleeting weeks of fall this year if I had awoke each day to answer the question, “If I only have thirteen more wondrous fall seasons in my one wild and precious life left, how do I want to spend each minute of my day today?”
So I offer this clarifying question now to you dear one...
“If you only have thirteen more seasonal embraces of your most favorite fleeting things in the whole world…maybe for you it is the holidays or quiet snowfalls, magnolias in bloom or bluebirds returning to nest…how will you choose to spend the days in your one wild and precious life?”
Tomorrow, you'll probably find me catching another sunrise, painting splashes of watercolor landscapes as I am inspired, chasing the sun while it sets itself down for the night, and watching the leaves dance wild in the wind before throwing themselves to the ground - all with an unmistakeable joy in my heart on one of the final unseasonably warm and wonderful days of fall.
P.S. New offerings and gatherings are coming in 2023 for all those with a sensitive soul and a desire for more peace, wild wonder, and camaraderie amidst the continued chaos of modern life.
See You in the Wild,
Angela Juhl, MS, CHWC, CYT
Master of Science in Human Nutrition & Functional Medicine
Wellcoaches™ Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Wild Woman Project Circle Leader
Certified Yoga Teacher
I look forward to supporting you on your journey. Let's walk together for awhile...we'll stop and smell the wildflowers. Smile a lot. And wander down the road less-traveled.
Wild at Heart was founded on the mission: to take a stand against unsustainable cultural norms by empowering you to realign your lifestyle with the wisdom of nature while rekindling a soulful relationship to the natural world.