arts & music

From Light to Dark and Back Again (or: An Ode to Fall)

by JoAnna — October 5, 2013

You’ll have to forgive me as I haven’t experienced a proper fall in roughly seven years, and when I say “fall,” I mean that period of time when forests of trees bleed all manner of crimson and tangerine, and you start to notice the patterns of frost as they crystallize on your window pane. It’s that time of year when the summer sun burns off the last of its heat and shifts to first gear, riding low on the horizon. It’s the season when the clouds stack themselves on top of one another in a vaporous and oxygenated orgy, their depth something you can drown yourself in. It’s the time when you can almost smell winter coming as it hitches a ride on sharp winds that cut deep. The mistral forcing fragments of ice past all that muscle and marrow.

From light to darkness and back again. Change.

From light to darkness and back again. Change.

Chilled particles that migrate and nestle deep within bone. The hollow that runs you through.

Perhaps I spent too long in Copenhagen, or Berlin, or Brussels (or insert any other European city overrun by various scales of grey between October and May), but I find there’s something welcoming about an ash painted sky. One that’s flecked with violent bursts of rose and coral in the morning and smeared a vibrant buttered apricot at night. I don’t mind the grey of fall really and I rarely curse the rain, the snow or the cover of perpetual dark. There’s a time and a place for these kind of days and there’s something quite welcoming about it all: the shadows and the chill. The weight of a new season. A juncture that’s all about brooding, metamorphosing and hibernating.

The colours of fall.

The colours of fall.

That’s about keeping warm. Staying warm. Being warmer still.

The fall – winter cusp is a time when slowing down becomes acceptable and meaty fruits, earthy vegetables and piping hot stews are a blessed pleasure. Turning yourself inside becomes a sanctioned affair and choosing to hang back instead of hang out isn’t deemed as unfriendly. No, fall is a time of disintegration and abstruse introspection. It’s about reflection and long hours of slumber.

Turning over and giving up.

Transitioning and crossing over.

manhattan nyc

In honour of fall’s arrival I’m handing myself over to the short, brisk days and deep eternal nights that are to come. I’m also set on retreating into my woman-cave (we all have one, no?) and sticking my nose into books/literature that exemplify the season. That said, the onset of fall always reminds me of a poem drawn down by the ever prodigious Canadian poet/writer Margaret Atwood. Since she has the gift of being able to verbalize communicate many of the things I wish I could, I’ll leave it to the Grand Dame of the written word to spice up my lugubrious fall musings with her on-point, and often haunting, lyricism.

Let fall begin.



Darkness waits apart from any occasion for it;
like sorrow it is always available.
This is only one kind,

The kind in which there are stars
above the leaves, brilliant as steel nails
and countless and without regard.

We are walking together
on dead wet leaves in the intermoon
among the looming nocturnal rocks
which would be pinkish gray
in daylight, gnawed and softened
by moss and ferns, which would be green,
in the musty fresh yeast smell
of trees rotting, earth returning
itself to itself

and I take your hand, which is the shape a hand
would be if you existed truly.
I wish to show you the darkness
you are so afraid of.

Trust me. This darkness
is a place you can enter and be
as safe in as you are anywhere;
you can put one foot in front of the other
and believe the sides of your eyes.
Memorize it. You will know it
again in your own time.
When the appearances of things have left you,
you will still have this darkness.
Something of your own you can carry with you.

We have come to the edge;
the lake gives off its hush;
in the outer night there is a barred owl
calling, like a moth
against the ear, from the far shore
which is invisible.
The lake, vast and dimensionless,
doubles everything, the stars,
the boulders, itself, even the darkness
that you can walk so long in
it becomes light.

*Interlunar by Margaret Atwood

*A modified version of this entry was posted on For the Intolerants on 30/09/13*

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