Saturday, October 15, 2011

'Tis Almost Fairy Time!

The days have suddenly shortened. Like Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, I watch the dwindling light, wonder and fear as at one stride comes the dark. On days like today, even as the temperature mounts in mid day, the sky never brightens and 6pm feels like 8pm, and my cat worries that I might have forgotten to feed him. My postage stamp of a backyard is alive with night rodents that scratch and screech into the hot wee hours.

Something archetypal in me recoils at the fading lights; in the dying year, I find it difficult to trust the shifting whispers of leaves. Many friends, especially the ones who live in different geographies and landscapes, claim to love Fall of all the seasons and I admire their courage to notice beauties as all things close and end. In this season of endings, mornings feel like a gyp, misnomers for the grey mists shrouding and hiding the earth in treacherous cobwebs.

I think it might be more difficult to face the Fall for those of us who nest in the Tropics, where either the day is bright or stormy or both, but never neither. I wonder if the urbane ducks, cats, and palm trees are affected similarly, if they would confess to a discomfiture with the anomaly of Autumn in the land of eternal sunshine.

I remember a really, really black Fall, many moons ago, when I used to consider 3pm and worry about where I was to be when all light was gone from the skies. That was the Fall when I first took my small daughter fairy hunting in the streets near indifferent strip malls. We would arrange rocks of broken cement and come back the following evening to exclaim amazement if they were or weren't where we'd left them. I took to spending nap hours to eek out child verses with hackneyed meter and beaten rhymes, and hiding them in hedges for us to find later that evening; those were our fairy lamps and they brightened many evenings.

Yesterday, we attended Sol's An Afternoon with the Elves, and not surprisingly, that resonated with me. The play celebrates our need to believe in the numinous in the midst of unbelievable, heartbreaking realities we often find ourselves in. In fact, the play contends that so strong is this pull towards the numinous, that often, we find ourselves upsetting the comfortable, easy status quo of the familiar and recognizable, as we race after the flickering, winking glimmers we imagine on the borders beyond our peripheral ken.

It is this very need that makes the lengthening nights sparkle with festive votive and lanterns,as the darkness is shawled in clothes of brightest hues; firecrackers and joyful music mingle with twinkling, tinkling jewelry to drown out the dusk hush; the greenest of evergreens grace lintels and mantels; the once tightly shut doors smile open in welcome, their thresholds sporting Rangoli.

Tropics do change their seasons after all, and fairies do light up the path markers of Fall. As I watch the long shadows dancing in my backyard and through my window, I am aware of a deep gratitude for the incredible, extraordinary capacity of our species to take arms against the very mantle of the sky, and by opposing, end the smothering dark.





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