For me every season has its magic, its beauty, its wonder. Spring gives rise to hope and renewal; beauty springs forth and life blossoms anew. Summer is a time of growth, loving, and taking joy in all the activities warm weather and longer days afford us. Winter is a time of rest, contemplation and planning for the new year to come.
But fall is....magic.
Technically autumn doesn’t start until September 22nd when the autumnal equinox happens. Then, the dark half of the year is celebrated in Celtic cultures, culminating in the feast day of Samhain, or Halloween. Halloween holds a special place in my heart because it is my father’s birthday. Mine is on October 30th, so literally these days are blessed for me, and so it is with the whole season. This year for the first time in my life, I will celebrate my birthday---and my dad’s---without him. Weird that. Even the thought leaves me feeling conspicuously numb.
Still, it is rather fitting that I’ll be celebrating a life well lived at a time when the spirits of the dead are so close they are celebrated as well. We’ll see how that goes. I’m guessing pretty well, all things considered.
I committed to doing a Halloween novella for a box set with other writers from my monthly writers lunch crew earlier this summer and that particular project has helped save me from engaging in too much thought of sorrow about the season. Harvest season isn’t a time for sorrow. It is the end of the growing season. It is the celebration of all the fruits of our labor from winter planning to spring planting and summer growing. It is a celebration of life...the circle of the year...the circle of a life.
So as I put the finishing touches on my Halloween novella: Midday Masquerade, which will be featured in the box set Entranced: A Halloween Box Set, I am even more conscious, if such a thing is possible, of the magic that is autumn. The riotous color, the scent of fallen apples on the ground and burning leaves in the air. (I’m a Wisconsinite, so we do get four glorious seasons every year, even if winter lasts for about five to six months.) Our falls in the Midwest can be glorious. Now the bright green sedum is just starting to turn pink. Over the next few weeks it’ll turn from blushing pink to deep scarlet. Maybe the geography of where I live contributes to the awareness that as the seasons turn we should enjoy--no-- revel in them, because as they pass so does our time here.
To live well, we need to live fully now. Every day. My dad was fond of saying, “No one gives you tomorrow.” I prefer to flip that on its head. “Make the most of today. What you do now matters.” It’s also the only thing any of us can control.
So in this time where historically I looked forward to birthday cake, and enjoying my favorite meal with my dad—both of us dressed up for Halloween, yep, every year—I now do so as the head of my Clan. A mantle I could have done without for another decade or so, but now choose to wear with pride, hope, and a feeling that a life well lived is one that should be celebrated forever. I’ll be just that on Halloween.
The Scottish Celts have a term for those who have recently passed yet still grow in our hearts. These souls are called: Flowers of the Forest. Here’s to all of you who have a forest where one flower or many grow. May the pain in your hearts ease as joyful memories fill them. May you love those around you even more. May you live every day like it contains all the seasons.
Happy Almost Birthday, Dad. Happy Almost-Halloween. Here’s to celebrating a vibrant life and a vibrant season!