In California, rites of passage are invented. There are no seasons, just hot and cooler. So the fall is an arbitrary sort of thing, not at all like autumn in the East. Back East, transitions are built into the atmosphere. Out here, life is more temperate, but also more ambigious. The East is an oil painting; the West is a watercolor.
Allegedly it is autumn now, though outside my window the world is 87 degrees and i'm wearing white shorts and a T-shirt. And I find that I miss the fall, that celery crispness in the air, the colors red, orange, maize, and brown; I miss my cardigan sweaters. I don't miss winter, mind you. I'm not entirely foolish. But I do miss that external indication of settling down to business.
Although I have proof positive, in the form of canceled checks and typewritten pages, that I actually do work during the summer, I never feel as though I do. The summer is vacation. Things are less important, less time consuming, less intense. Things are just less. And that's nice for about three months, but then comes my favorite time of the year. Autumn.
Even though I'm too old to pick out new notebooks, pencils, and three-ring binders at the stationery store, I still feel like going back to school come September. Sometimes I do it anyway, renew the ritual as if to reenroll in my own school of thought. sometimes it helps; always it's fun.
You see, now that I live on the West Coast again I'm having to invent a fall of my own concoction, a sort of interior autumn of cool air and warm colors. Iths one more discipline to add to my already long and undisciplined list of disciplines. But it's worth the effort, and it's essential if I'm to keep any ember of fall burning within me.
Obviously the weather won't be any help at all.