There’s this small sort of sadness in the air these days, and although it’s quiet, it’s also hard to ignore it. It’s not a sadness that is within, one that you feel in deep in your gut. Instead, it swirls around your head, like a deer fly—insistent and not entirely harmless. Sometimes it buzzes away, but it always comes back. I realized today that this feeling is the feeling heralding the end of summer and the beginning of fall. It’s about everything just perceptibly past its prime, in slow decline. I’m surprised by this feeling every year. How does that happen?
When you look around, there is nothing visually different. Everything is still green and abundant. But if you look closer you can see the subtle bend of the ferns, just slightly lower than they were a few weeks ago. The almost piercing drone of the cicadas is now constant, coming from the high crooks of tree branches. At night, the katydids chirr and zizz, along with a cricket here and there. There are dry leaves littering the forest floor. And up in the mountains there is the bright scarlet calling card of fall: the black tupelo tree’s leaf. It always seems to appear around this time, a striking bright red on top of emerald green moss.
What’s oddest about it is that I really love fall. I look forward to fall, and I often can’t wait for summer to end, with its hot, humid days which seem to sap me entirely of desire to do anything. So, what is it about this time of year that seems so melancholy? Is it a vestigial feeling from ancient DNA that rings a bell of warning? To scurry now and gather before it is too late? Is it a leftover from school days, when you dreaded going back to school? I am not sure, but even as I try to swat it away and convince myself it’s not real, it still seems to linger.