Missing autumn

October was a nutty month. For all but five days, JK and I were either hosting out-of-town company, or one or both of us were out of town ourselves. Add to that two weeks of being pathetically, disgustingly sick, a dog with a sprained ankle, a cat that tried her best to run away, a crippling addiction to online presidential news, and a garden in need of putting up for the winter.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I blinked. And I missed fall.

During the past couple of weeks, the situation outside has transitioned decidedly, from cool and crisp with crunchy leaves under foot, to downright cold. Scarf weather. Last weekend I broke out the mittens. A week ago, the forecast called for snow, and Mother Nature delivered. I glanced out the window in the middle of a writing workshop and gasped, surprised by the thick clumps of snow lazily drifting through the tree branches.

This didn't bode well. I need fall. With the cool mornings and the first hint of that fireplace smell and the newness of long sleeves, I've come to associate a kind of birth, a delicate beginning, cemented back in the days when September meant the start of a new school year. Fall means renewal, clean slates, looking forward. The prospect of missing out on this--of moving from the lazy, hot summer to the hibernation of winter without time to dwell in the in-between--left me feeling a bit upside down and out of sorts. Like showing up for class for the first time, just to realize the semester's over.

Until today.

"What's the temperature outside?" JK asked this morning. It's his typical refrain, starting around the end of September and lasting through May. Yesterday was rainy, gray; the week before, cold and dismal.

I logged onto the Weather Channel. Once again, and in the most literal sense, I blinked.

"Seventy-two!" I shouted back, a little too eagerly.

Sunny, breezy, 72 at the peak of mid-day. Outside, the wind blew through the trees, still adorned with bright yellow leaves. "This won't last long," JK cautioned. I didn't care. For one day, in what the calendar suddenly called November (when did that happen??), early fall was upon us.

The dog and I walked around the neighborhood. We took the scenic route. We drove to the store with the windows down. We meandered.

In our daily lives, we all need space to meander. Every now and then, we should afford ourselves a left turn when the map says turn right, just to see where it'll take us. We need to follow our instincts and our hunches, not just our to-do lists. We need time to wonder.

These are the things I've been missing lately. But today gave me sweet reprieve. And as the day fades into evening, shedding minutes by the, well, minute, I have reason not to mourn my evanescent second chance. Because tomorrow's high is 73.

Dusting off

Look at all this dust.

One of the nifty features of Blogspot (and other blog hosts) is that you can write part of a post, then save it to finish later. Once, in the distant past, this feature came in handy. I started a post in the morning, finished it in the afternoon, then proofed it one last time in the evening before publishing.

But, over the past two months, things have turned ugly, and what once was my efficient friend has morphed into my blogging downfall.

I start. I type. I peter. Then I hit the "save" button, never to return. And so Rage Is Good sits forlorn, covered in virtual cobwebs.

Part exhaustion, part distraction, part ennui--these have been my enemies all autumn. I am too busy with things that don't seem to matter; an hour doesn't go by without me obsessively checking Politico, DailyKos and the New York Times; I suddenly lack the head space for coherent, sustained thought--it's as if my thought processes have begun to mimic the rapid click-and-scan of web surfing. The minute my brain alights on an insight or idea, it's off and running to the next. I start writing something, silly or profound or somewhere in between, and by the third paragraph I'm bored, fighting off the urge to open a new tab and see what's hoppin' over on Slate.

A friend of mine, whose writing inspires me with its insight and wisdom, recently published a post on her blog about the need to mentally de-clutter. I know I am not the only person who succumbs to occasional bouts of restlessness, nor am I alone in spending the bulk of my waking hours pouring over the latest poll numbers and the endless (and endlessly repetitive) commentary they inspire. But my friend's story--unrelated to political obsessions, yet familiar all the same--eased my worry that this state of distraction might be permanent.

Thank goodness the election is almost over. Thank goodness the season is changing. Thank goodness for other people who so willingly lay bare their own tribulations.