Today was the day it turned, from summer and the recent eclipse to fall. It feels like the whole of the city, natural and built, is pausing, inhaling, and leaning toward the newness of fall. The streets are abandoned with children at back-to-school nights, the insects are ringing and buzzing in that particular fall manner, and the light, the light that dimmed just last week as the moon got back at the sun for her domination of the skies, is different. Tilting, golden, falling light.
For so long, so much of human survival has hinged on successful falls. Harvests that didn’t rot, moisture levels just right to get into the fields, and healthy farmers who could bend their backs to the difficult task of farming. Fall, the sad time, light wanes and begins to leave us. The sensitive ones bracing for the loss of daylight that stalks us during our winters. The educators, myself one, feel the tinge of worry about the school year. And that bit of hope for the start of a new group of learners entering our lives. Changing us as much as we change them. Grudgingly we admit that we truly don’t know it all and that parents and students will reveal as much to us as we to them.
The inhale, right before we begin to learn and change. The sigh out as we concentrate even more on the autumnal tasks ahead. The leaves, the garden endings, the gutters, the painting, joyous work in the crisp, dry cool air. We will be pulled indoors to face our families, our significant others, the book-club members and the endless meetings. The trees breathe out and drop their leaves. Grass tips and browns, flowers dim, plans are made for escaping the coming cold.
Fall, like a physical fall, can jar us and discombobulate our psyche. The shock that time is indeed moving forward. That tenacious problems face us — personal and communal. The golden gleam of hope, that feeling we have all had when we bought our pencil boxes, paste glue, and the new metal lunch box. That we can be something, not nothing. This fall, more then ever, I grasp for that ephemeral feeling of this most energizing season. The pause as we reassess what is going on around us, and gird ourselves for the hard work of building and rebuilding.
Our country creaks, the boundaries between states rise up like walls, that first-day-of-school-type fear grabs firmly. The leader of our nation-sized classroom wavers and weaves. Breathe deep, dig deep, let the light of our still standing but recently dimmed sun lead. Fall, a time to reflect, reassess and trudge toward the difficult but honorable tasks of unity, equity, democracy, health, and justice for all.
Kris Potter lives in South Minneapolis, where she teaches at a play-based preschool.
WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our Submission Guidelines.)