I smelled it for the first time yesterday. It was late in the evening, just before we sat down with the kids to watch a movie. Just outside my back door it was waiting for me, again. The Summer world of northern Illinois is dying. It wasn’t the full force scent of Fall, but the beginning of that wonderful death rattle was there. I have a walnut tree in the front yard, a massively tall beast which dominates the landscape. It is always the first to show the sickness which kills summer. The leaves yellow in late Summer and its branches fill with massive green nuts for the neighborhood squirrels.
I’m addicted to Fall in ways I cannot understand. The smell of cooling air and decomposing leaves is coming. You might smell it for the first time today. It reminds me that my favorite part of the year is on its way. Cooler nights, bonfires, and a different sort of darkness. There is a truth in the death of the world around us, one which gets played out each year. The green of Summer gets swept away by the force of seasonal changes – it all must go. This is all for a purpose, and perhaps there’s a story in there somewhere, but for me the first footsteps of Fall mean we approach the time of change.
In Illinois, Fall is as powerful a force as any visual medium. The changing leaves become a fiery reminder of the natural beauty the area still possesses. With no urban sprawl to get in my way, I can drive about twenty minutes in any direction and be in the countryside, an honor which is not lost on me. No matter how advanced humanity might become we have but one Earth, peril to those who waste its natural beauty.
The smell of Fall is more than a seasonal change. It’s a promise. Wrapped in that scent is the promise that the beauty that was Spring and Summer will once again return, but for now we must accept the beauty that is death. We must reflect on how far we’ve come, and prepare for those things which we cannot change, for as the seasons of our Earth, so too are we limited by the time we have.
The main thrust of my work this week has been the overall plot weave of the next novel series. Like a juggler with some kind of death wish, I’ve decided that I’d triple the amount of main characters from my previous works. This means triple the amount of work, but it should give me a richer story, with more perspectives, which is what I want. The lives we lead tend to be colored by our perspectives, and without stepping outside of our comfort zones, we’re dumb to what other people go through. Even as far in the future as the project is, humanity hasn’t changed as radically as you might think, but more on that later.