Celebrating Darkness, My Old Friend

What makes us feel so blue in the fall? 

I’ve lived in Southern California for 27 years— however, I am an East Coast boy at heart in a far-flung place called California.  I grew up in Washington, D.C. and have lived in Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, and Tennessee.  I know what the darkness of winter feels like.  I’ve had saliva freeze on my lips scraping a windshield in the subzero cold of Michigan.  I’ve also lived through the hellishness of devastating humidity and triple digit temperatures in the deep South and the mid-Atlantic.  I’ve swatted gnats and mosquitoes in Florida and wondered where flying insects of any kind were on the California desert.  

Suffice it to say I’ve lived through virtually every type of climate imaginable while my 12 year-old son has never seen anything but warm sunny California weather.  He’s in for quite the awakening should he ever journey beyond California’s largely uneventful climate. 

Even the slightest rumble of thunder scares him. 

When you’ve lived in Southern California for most of your life, you forget the dread of oncoming winter because it doesn’t get all that cold here.  The weather here in So’ Cal’ doesn’t change much from day to day.  It is sunny, hot and dry most of the time.  Some winters bring not one drop of rain.  There’s endless sunshine to where you grow downright sick of the sun and blue skies. You long for a cloudy rainy day.  Winter rains bring the growth of green lush brush and tree growth.  Fires burns all that growth away when things get dry and crunchy and humans get careless.  Dry lightning is responsible for the rest.  Winter rains following a long drought and fire bring mudslides because all that fresh plant matter has been consumed by fire.  You haven’t seen dry until you’ve lived in the dry and dusty Southwest—where rain can be absent for years at a stretch. When it rains, the grateful desert yields a fresh aroma unequaled – that smell of wet concrete for the first time in ages.

When I lived in the East and Midwest, those first chilly days of fall were refreshing—yet with a certain amount of dread because it was about to get really cold.  When you’ve lived the darkness of winter and the bone-numbing cold of north winds, you develop a certain amount of contempt for Old Man Winter.  That said, fall brings dread for a large segment of the population.

What I love most about fall is the calming effect of autumn.  The sun slips lower and lower in the sky into the lazy sleepy days of winter.  Because I live in California, the days tend to be longer for me in winter than those of you who live in the great white north.  In the north, winter days are short and quite cloudy to where you wonder if you will ever see the sun again.  Yet, in the summertime, the north witnesses days that never seem to end.  Here in California, summer days are shorter than they are in the north—proof the Earth really is round. 

Mother Earth is never what you think she is.

Autumn welcomes the onset of winter.  Winter is a time of rest, hibernation, popcorn, and a sleepy afternoon watching old movies.  What is it about old movies on a cold winter afternoon with a roaring fire in the fireplace?  Ted Turner knew what he was doing when he founded Turner Classic Movies (TCM).  CNN is for news hounds.  TCM is for the romantic at heart.  I’d like to return to the 1940s and the way people dressed and styled their hair.  In those days, people had class and dignity in a spirit of mutual respect—with simple courtesies long since forgotten.

I believe we should each embrace the seasons in all their forms because they always pass.  Instead of dreading fall and the arrival of cold air, embrace these elements because they will pass in short order.  Take a deep breath, inhale the woodsmoke, and bask in the rustle of leaves.  Another year is passing.  A new year is pending.  The holidays are coming.  The snow will fall. 

It is a time of regrouping and starting over.    

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Darkness, My Old Friend”

  1. Now, we get snow right here at home. Winter can be dark and long, definitely not my favorite time of years, except for Christmas .


  2. You grabbed me with TCM! I feel the same way.
    I’m a Boomer, an Air Force Brat, retired Navy, and call Tampa, Florida home. I live in Maryland and work in DC. My favorite duty station was Brunswick, Maine. I love cold weather and snow! I always say you can bundle up and get warm, but you can’t strip down and cool off. TMI! I know 🙂
    Great post, great writing!


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