Autumn brings questions without answers

September 22, 2019

Autumn carries quiet images for many of us, at least through the Indian summer season. In fact, many feel it is their favorite time of the year. These warm days and cool evenings entice us into a sort of complacency. We’ve grown through the years to appreciate Frank Sinatra’s voice crooning those lyrics, “The falling leaves drift by my window, the autumn leaves of red and gold.”

Autumn is a time to re-examine things that we get caught up in; the minutiae of our daily lives often overwhelms the moment and the big picture. The season deserves a closer look at simplicity. 

For instance, probably the most obvious question while watching the political debates when climate change came up was, did I put the recycle bin out last week or is it supposed to be out this week? Simple, but never answered.

Something occurred to me while I was driving along a rural road in a nearby state recently. I was on my way to a local nursery and had traveled this route many times. The black asphalt pavement met the vast field that stretched out for miles, creating a smooth pattern and transition. The field was overgrown with wildflowers, random weeds and tall, swaying grasses. From a distance, it looked like a quilt. 

But on this day, with the autumn stripping the ambiance bare, I noticed something that had never caught my eye before. Standing high right in the middle of this field was a chair. It was made of wood and looked weathered and worn. It had no arms, just a spindled back with empty spaces in between. Without the crop that had grown this summer, the chair was a dichotomy of reason and rational. How did it get there and what purpose did it serve? Did anyone ever sit on it, and why would this furniture be in the middle of the field? Is it a sign of global warming?

It made me wonder. And it occurs to me, the more I question it, that perhaps sometimes there are no answers. It just is. That’s the thing about life we all have to accept. A solitary thought may bring you around to seeing a simple item, and it might make you believe it’s just every day that counts.

It doesn’t have to be a chair; it could be that red balloon that escaped and is flying high in the sky.  No one is around to claim it. The balloon just soars and bounces over and under the horizon. But where did it come from, and how did it find this new freedom? Will it carry itself over the ocean and then just plummet, or will it keep on going? Your eye watches it until it disappears out of sight and out of mind. But just for a moment, you took yourself out of your own routine to smile and appreciate the windswept red balloon. How great is that? No questions, no answers, just an existence.

I see clothes hanging on a line outside a house on those rural back roads. You can almost smell the fresh air clinging around the material. The bareness of autumn allows that image to protrude through the scenery you once sped past without a backward glance. The simplicity of autumn brings old-fashioned remembrances filtering back through your mind. Autumn has no pretenses, no fake ambitions. Its cousin winter is around the corner, so autumn will let you enjoy some diffuse color, some sun, and some questions without answers.

Often, we need to slow down, take stock in whatever is around, and yes, count our blessings. Now is the perfect time. In life, very often there are no obvious answers. So, let those autumn leaves fall and drift by your window. The recycle bin is the one with the yellow top, right?

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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