The Color Perfect

9 11 2011

This post is a special dedication to all the folks near and afar who have listened to me complain about the weather in Syracuse for the past 8 1/2 years. The weather this autumn–almost everything about this autumn–has been perfect, and perfect is not a word I have ever used either liberally or lightly.

A row of campus conifers and a leather-brown oak reaching into a bright blue sky, itself a window-effect canvas for an overlay of branches from the maple kitty-corner to the view.

Right now, in early November, I’m sitting in an upstairs library study room @SUNYIT before my tutoring appointments start, looking out on the sharp shadows of bare and almost-bare tawny-leafed trees, as the trees stretch into a hazy blue sky streaked with a few thin, high cloud, and their shadows stretch across a campus lawn leaf-flecked, hilly, and verdant. Between the branches of their brethren on the ridge just across the nearest access road, the purple outline of the nearest mountain rage rolls as gently as a massive wave. Joggers periodically pass by below, ponytails swishing merrily, some of them in shorts. It was in the 40s this morning, the Erie canal, when I passed over it on my commute, foggy and glowing lemon-yellow. It’s supposed to be 70 before the day’s out. We’ve had frosts–there was a little one last night, and the leaves on the lawn are still dotted with its melted pearls. We even, reputedly, had a flurry once, but I was at work when this happened, and by the time I got out to drive home, I was met with clear skies and dry roads. Sometimes we get autumn here for a week or two, and usually those weeks are rainy. We had a few early on–at least one is mentioned in an earlier post somewhere–but then they blew away again, and the glory in their wake has gone on for months.

Early morning foggy light streaming through the steam coming off the neighbor's house and the last of the locust leaves

And then there’s been the fall culture–with the weather this spot-on, we’ve had a chance to–and had to–go out and just do everything that has always sounded like a good idea until the freezing rain arrived, years past. Most years we get to do one or two of these things in a season. This year, it’s just been one gigantic reckoning. We’ve swooned over Gannon’s pumpkin-spice ice-cream, picked pumpkins of our own, carved pumpkins, roasted pumpkin seeds, baked pumpkin pies, decorated pumpkin cookies, bought locally-made pumpkin-butter to slather on toast and eat on spicy, seasonal peanut-butter-and-pumpkin-butter sandwiches (the birthday boy had one of those, with a candle and a song, for his November-birthday breakfast) and watched the zoo animals frolic with pumpkins on Smash-the-Squash day.

Matt and Caleb on the hunt, dwarfed by both the great expanse of Perfect-Autumn-Weather sky and the number and size of the Great Pumpkin's Baldwinsville patch.

We’ve also picked apples (and had friends up from Virginia and the Carolinas to do it with us), eaten hot, sugary fritters at local festivals, drunk gallons of cider, hot, cold, spiced, and not, nibbled cider donuts, peeled and sliced apples for pie, had apple cobbler for breakfast, taken apples for lunches, sampled Gannon’s apple-crisp ice-cream (also terrific, but nothing like as stellar as the pumpkin), stirred apples into salads, and snacked on them with cheese. We’ve gotten lost in corn-mazes (twice), been on inflatable festival “rides,” watched puppet-shows, gone craft-shopping and apple-vodka-shopping, been on hayrides, walked in the woods and around ponds, dashed across deeply leafy expanses of park-lawn, collected leaves for color-vocabulary lessons, made leaf-painting crafts (there’s even a t-shirt), gathered pine-cones and made them into tree-hanging bird-feeders (then hung them with ladders in the dark and celebrated with Gannon’s maple-walnut, to round out the autumn-themed trifecta), gathered conkers (by accident, in the great, failed, chestnut experiment) leapt into leaf-piles, built fires to snuggle up beside and woken up with woodsmoke in our hair, watched the geese migrate in long v’s an w’s and cursive strings that don’t quite untangle into words at all, marveled at the monarchs, the ladybugs, and the immense, county-wide murder-flights of crows, and watched the color of the light change as it seeps in through our windows every morning, getting pinker, crisp-er, and longer-lingering (not in the day, just in the rooms, as it doesn’t ever rise as high up as it used to).

The fallen canopy collects at Onondaga Park (i.e. the end of our street)

Of course I can’t help but keep thinking, as I take yet another easily fabulous picture of the little guy, what an autumn it’s been to turn four in! But it’s also been an amazing autumn to get to share with someone turning four, and with his amazing, hard-working, always-pushing-us-farther daddy: we’re all blessed, every one of us, and this season has been a constant leaf-fall flurry of reminders of just how beautiful this life (crashed cars, insurance phone calls, scheduling dramas and all) can be.

Listening to: The Afters, “Light up the Sky”

You light, light, light up the sky, you light up the sky
to show me you are with me
And I, I, I can’t deny, no I can’t deny
that you are right here with me
You’ve opened my eyes




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