Daylight savings time, spring forward, fall back. On Sunday morning with a little turn of a knob, tap on a keypad, or satellite signal to your computer, we will have tilted the globe into a new time zone. Or will we? My calendar schedule may be guided by the change, but my internal barometer—not so easy.
September 22 may have been the Equinox first day of fall, the calendar season change. But my actual season awakening begins when nature prods my body to respond to what it is offering, in this case the first cold (ish) fall morning in the Lowcountry this year!
That happened this past weekend, when Snowy prodded me to the coffee pot, her cold wet nose on my heel. She doesn't drink coffee, but the sooner I get that first cup in me, the quicker she gets her bowl filled. When the percolator started gurgling, I shivered and moseyed over to the thermostat—62 brisk degrees inside! I zipped open the patio blinds to check out the budding sunrise. Glorious!
Opening the door, I put my bare toes onto the cool concrete and that was it. Within minutes I was standing near the marsh watching that ball of fire climb slowly over the Wando River. I wanted to run into the glowing sphere as if it had a form that I could embrace. Not tangible, but a little leprechaun-think never hurt anyone.
While the sun inched upward, I did some pensive posturing (try not to picture that), recalling past mornings similar to this one, not dictated by a date on the calendar. I had my own "Fall Back" if you will.
There was the crisp morning on a winding road in North Carolina when I pulled the car over just to hear the colored leaves skip across the asphalt and over the edge of a guard railed cliff. And another when I left my drive in North Carolina to buy eggs on a cool, blue-skied mountain morning during peak leaf change season. My windshield became a slideshow of Bob Ross paintings around every bend. I ended up one and a half hours away on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. And if it weren't for seeing Nancy's Candy Factory in Meadows of Dan Virginia, I'd of probably continued on. I bought chocolate and headed back down the mountain and home... without the eggs.
And then an all-time favorite, at "my rock" at Hanging Rock Park. No, it wasn't all mine, squatter's rights.
I spied it from the bottom of a waterfall gorge one day and worked my way back up to it. Park guidance signs sent most hikers to the right on a well-beaten path to the falls. To the left, a big brown sign:
I threaded around the sign and gate through the woods.
The path grass lay flat from the occasional cruise of a park ranger four-wheeler. Begalites clung to my jeans. (Beg-a-lite: a Southern euphemism for a type of plant seed that sticks to your clothes as you walk through tall grasses, a hitchhiker.)
About a mile into the dense forest I could hear the sound of water spilling from the mountain onto forged rocks far below. And there it was, just like that.... the woods ended and a nature-carved catwalk rock jutted 12 feet out into the blue horizon just below the tree tops. I walked to the end of the overhanging rock, lay down flat and put my face to it's cold surface. The falls slid off of the mountain to my left and could be loud or quiet, depending on the amount of rainfall in the recent weeks.
I watched the water rush 120 feet down the mountain rocks to pool below in it's basin surrounded by mounds of colorful just beyond peak leaves. I knew it was fall.
More recently (another trip to the grocery store), a cool breeze through my open car window and blue skies magically turned my blinker to the left on Hwy 41 instead of the right. A dense patch of angel oaks and an old fence caught my eye to the left and I whipped around and pulled into the sandy drive. I ended up in a crumbling pre-Revolutionary church yard and cemetery. It was waaaay cool! Stay tuned, that story is coming soon.
Seasons change in unexpected places, hidden in plain view. Each season has its own mysteries and wonders. Wonders that I didn't get to this season (like checking out that overgrown path where I saw a man emerge with his fishing pole or slipping in to a gated proposed Charleston County Park) will have to wait for a nature-nudged morning in the spring.
All in all, the untamed volatile state of the universe that rejects our time and date stamps both excites me and humbles me, and I sure hope it stays that way.
Sunday night on November 2nd, I will set that clock back an hour, but— Monday morning my body is going to know it and I will be up coffee in hand at 4:30 am instead of 5:30. And for a full month, I will say "Oh my gosh, it's only 6:30 p.m!" To which Don will reply "But, it's really 7:30."