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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Autumnal synaesthesia


I enjoy winter.  I find something appealing about the aesthetic minimalism of winter, of a world stripped down to basics.  I suspect I also enjoy the excuse to hibernate, to pare my own life down to the things that are important necessary:  family, cats, friends, reading--all in the "yes" column.  Floundering around on FB or wandering Cornwall Centre after Christmas--not so much.  Baking bread, yes; baking cookies probably not.

But I also love the way fall, with its riotous effect on our senses, gets us ready for that minimalism.  Just before last weekend, I thought that fall was very much about colour and about the way that colour changes daily.  You have to watch carefully, earnestly, or you find that a favourite tree has suddenly lost all its leaves and you didn`t even notice it turning.  The light also changes quickly, particularly in the early evening, so you realize that you need to watch that sunset down the back lane or you`re not going to see it at all.

Fall is, perhaps, the season when all our senses are tangled together.  The sussurating leaves sound golden.  The crisp mornings taste like heirloom tomatoes and freshly pulled carrots. The particular smell of fallen elm leaves evokes also the smell of apples, of fallow earth, of planting tulip bulbs.  You associate the late afternoon golden light with long nineteenth-century novels or with some other mad undertaking like re-reading Dante`s Divine Comedy or the latest translation of The Iliad and The Odyssey.  Strangely enough, paradoxically enough, for those of us who are the perpetual students that teach, it is a season of new beginnings, a time to re-envision an undertaking you`ve been doing for thirty-six years so you can (in Ezra Pound`s words) "make it new" in this time of the turning, waning year.

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