Pity the people with less than four seasons. Here in New York City on the northeast coast of the United States, Summer is just about over. A hot day here and there still reminds us of the oddball rainy Summer we have had, but the air at night tells a different story. It’s almost Fall, that brisk, blood-quickening time of year that assaults our senses and jolts us out of our warm weather lethargy. It’s buzz time, and suddenly you’re more alive, more aware, more curious. You notice the subtle changes in the sky, the trees, the flavor of the air you are breathing. You figure any week now the leaves are going to go all yellow, orange and gold overnight and blow all our minds a little bit. You start to get excited. About everything. Breakfast, noisy school buses, cars, women in scarves and turtlenecks, sunlight, books, playoff baseball, football, fire engines. People are moving a little quicker, a brisk spring in their step.
The geese in the parks are eating their faces off, fattening up for their long flight to their timeshares down south. They’ll let us know what kind of Winter we’re in for by their departure date. When the time comes, they circle around a couple of times getting into their vee-formations and honking up a storm, arguing goose aguments about who’s in charge of the whole operation. You wonder how they decide who gets to go in what formation, if they are cousins or in-laws or the like. There is no full moon quite like a full moon in Autumn, presumably what they call a harvest moon in places where they actually harvest stuff. Around here we hope that some geese formations will fly across the full moon honking their so-longs and see-ya’s until Spring. We wave at them, hoping they’ll bring us back a T-shirt or a coffee mug or something, even though they never seem to remember. You figure they probably forgot your address or don’t know your size anyway so the heck with it.
When Autumn comes to New York, this citiest of cities, the incredible energy level ratchets up to its greatest heights, and the whole place is a hive of happening. The rock clubs rock harder, the subways are packed to the gills as they boogie down the tracks on their appointed rounds and the 8 million of us lucky enough to call this place home are wired for sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes, eager for more of everything, aching to be and do! The sweaters and jackets are out, the women are shopping like beings possessed and the men are all raw nerve endings taking it all in. Everybody is doing their thing and living large.
You turn around and the trees are bare, the nights are cold and you can see your breath in hot puffs in the morning, tangible evidence of the mad life that percolates inside each and every one of us. You see the tourists checking all this out and you envy them a little bit because they are seeing it for the very first time, at first amazed and taken aback, then jumping right into the swing of things with both feet. You wonder what that’s like, New York from the outside looking in. Then you think about all the New Yorkers who came here from every place imaginable on the planet who all had that first time, that crazy day when they entered Wonderland. At some point each of them decided; I want this, this can be my place too, I can have some of this! No matter where they are from they became true New Yorkers at that moment and now cannot imagine living anywhere else. You’re thinking that for a whole lot of them that moment was on a brisk Fall day.
And so you pull out the leather and the suede, maybe buy a new hat and you cruise around your town, drinking it all in, planning your plans and feeling your joy. You see the rosy cheeks on the children, the wind blowing the ladies’ hair this way and that. Your head swims and your spirit soars. You feel a very real love for your city, your home and for all people everywhere, wishing they could feel what you are feeling at this sweet, sweet moment. Your heart is full. Of life, love, humility, wonder, ecstasy and vitality. Your mind is reeling at the endless possibilities of what it means to be a human being. All is good and clean and pure. Everything you see is wonderful, worthwhile and wholesome. If you drew your last breath in this sublime moment you would have no complaint. This is what Autumn in New York can do to a person. It’s the best time of year in the best place on the planet and you are a part of it. Miracles are real.