Autumn is Spring Minus HopeWe're nearing Labor Day weekend, which always fills me with a remote, distant dread. It's not the fear of school starting that thrashes deep down in me like a veteran's phantom limb itching in the night. It's something bigger than that, something ominous.
It secretes its own numbing agents and sneaks into the corners when I'm not looking, creeps into the fun in the sunshine I've had with friends these last few weeks. It's there, like John irving's Under Toad from 'Garp', its numbing agents working hard but not totally -- like an anesthetized surgical patient, I look unaware, but my body knows something fucked up is happening.
It's still hot and humid. People are still wearing shorts and tank tops. Summer's not over yet, but everyone is frantic. Life's been whizzing by all summer and now we're vigorously swimming and aggressively grilling to pack in the most fun we have before we all die this fall.
I saw a dead woodchuck on the trail the other day. It was purple and bloated -- and totally hairless. Ants and flies hadn't gotten there yet. It was a harbinger of autumn, a sign of a coming death, and even the maggots were staying away. For them to do their work would be disrespectful to whatever force left that dead woodchuck as an omen -- they'd be living off its dying, busily chewing away a reminder. I'll check on the way in tomorrow and see if their period of respect is over and there's a little skeleton trailside.
The air is thinner and more urgent now. It feels like summer and looks like summer, but it ain't summer. The air is no longer heavy with thundershowers and hazy afternoons. It's not pregnant with barbecues and swimming holes, with shows at Fort Reno and effects-laden air condition extravaganzas in Chinatown.
Science cannot tell about late summer air what the heart can: it is spring, with all the hope removed and desperate fun in its place.