My Aunt Andi flew down from Alaska last weekend for a visit, and she told us how the snow outside her window in Wasilla is already inching down the mountains. The closer it falls to tree line, the sooner the long winter will settle in, when sun will set at three in the afternoon. They’ve been hunting moose to store in freezers and catching salmon to fillet and can.
It’s hard to imagine, because east of the Rockies, we don’t get a hard frost until deer season in November. We lie in the gut of the U.S. –- not on the Eastern seacoast, but not in the Western mountains either. Midwest, they call us. It’s an in-between name for an in-between place with swooping moods. The summers are thick as honey, the autumns damp, the winters bitter, the springs sometimes late and sometimes right on April time.
Well, it’s September now, and the produce stands are festooned with pumpkins but the sun is close and hot. I tried to do my school reading in the front rocker this evening, but it was ninety degrees with a chance of mosquitoes.
And it’s in my Midwestern veins to complain, I’m afraid. I told Aunt Andi I’d like to fly back to Alaska with her, leave the scraggly remnants of summer behind, head up into the Talkeetna Mountains, and watch the snows come. But my aunt said she wasn’t ready, and that winter would come soon enough. She was thankful for September here, and on her walk around our neighborhood, she collected leaves just beginning to blush red. Autumn in Alaska, she said, lasts fifteen minutes. She wanted her grandboys to see how many colors there can be.
Maybe I can learn to gather the colors too, while they last.
Swinging under the big pin oak a few days ago, hoping an acorn didn’t crack me on the head, I thought about how the word ember hides inside September. After summer’s fire, it’s a slow burning out— a long, hot, beautiful death of what was. It flickers a faint orange, just before November winds will snuff it out. But while it lasts, I may as well stretch out my hands and turn my back to it and warm myself. I may as will give thanks for the in-between and not-quite-East-or-West-ness of life in the now-not-yet.
3 thoughts on “Ember”
Thank you for sharing that golden-ember-ness 💛
But don’t get completely eaten up by the mosquitoes! Your fellow writers would miss you!
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I so enjoyed my time with you all, and have carried the heat from our walks in your beautiful, still-summer neighborhood to warm me in the chill of the autumn air as I now walk at home. Hugs to you all❤️
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