In northwest Oregon, the year’s most reliably pleasant weather occurs during Indian Summer. Today, on the eve of my 70th birthday, I strolled along the waterfront of the Columbia. The prevailing westerlies have lost their enthusiasm. This morning, the river laid flat. Paddle boarders cruised the smooth surface under a cloudless blue sky.
Elsewhere, the convergence of seasons tremble with change. Hood River’s harvest of pears and apples winds down with the decline of summer. Farm workers stack their ladders with a clatter onto a trailer, returning them to a barn for storage. Forklifts load the last bins of fruit onto flatbed trucks. Air horns toot as they head out for the packing houses.
The foliage of the orchard trees is still green. But other varieties, the maples, the locusts, and the poplars, hint at colors to come. Soon, frost will tip summer into autumn. Then, county roads and forest trails will display the bright colors of nature’s palette in the flattering, glamorous light of the descending sun.
The rhythm of the season resonates with me. I am, after all, a fall child. This year, my recovery from summer’s bout with pneumonia frames my appreciation of the natural world. That experience shook me up. I felt the terror of panic attacks for several weeks. Did I come close to the realm of dying? Yes, I think it’s fair to say that I was in the neighborhood.
I am blasé about it now, just two months removed from the fright of being unable to breath. My physiological immune system may be compromised by cancer, but my psychic immunity responded well to the salve of time. I relaxed and compartmentalized the fears. And, observing the natural world assists with adapting to how fragile life can be, how brief is our time under the wondrous canopy of consciousness.