Here on Colorado’s Front Range, people worship sunshine and blue skies to the point of fetishism. I like to say that after more than six hours of clouds between them and the sun, Denverites go running for the Prozac. There’s something perplexing about a population (many of whom are transplants from drearier places like Ohio) that can’t get enough mountains, snow, and the outdoors but drops into depression when the skies are even slightly moody. Michiganders or Minnesotans would scoff; this crowd ain’t too hearty.
It’s been either bright, blistering, or unseasonably balmy around here for the last six months. I could count on one hand the days of rain or even spit we’ve had since May. But I think Coloradans have gotten so used to the effects of climate change, including nearly relentless drought, that they’ve forgotten that spring and autumn aren’t supposed to feel like August. Up to two days ago it was consistently over 70 during the day. This is not Southern California, people.
Did I mention I’ve been sad? Like, wringing every drop of moisture out of my body every day or two sad. Like, what is that white stuff on my eyelashes? Oh, it’s salt deposits from all that crying sad. I’m ok; I’m getting through it with a lot of writing, a lot of aloneness, prayer, and a few key wellsprings of support. There’s no getting around sorrow you just need to feel in order to move forward; I accept that. But to wake up every god-forsaken morning with relentless sun streaming through my bedroom window and not the faintest sign of a cloud, in late October, gets to be a little much. Can I not just huddle under the sheets for awhile on a Saturday morning without feeling like I should find myself a Labrador retriever and go hiking, or ride my bike up to Mt. Evans?
Thank God, then, for yesterday, when at just about noon a glowering cold front tore through town and shoved a cheerleader-perky morning aside, muttering, “get out of the way, candy asses; welcome to NOVEMBER.” I watched the faces fall across the cafe where I was working, and I brightened up. People slunk into their sweatshirts and cast wary glances at the fat flakes falling on the asphalt. Customers bought soup instead of salad. Good. I got more work done in four hours than I had in the previous four days.
And this morning: a wonder. I woke early. It was sunny, yes, but my central heating hadn’t yet turned on and I could feel the crispness of the first frost. I pulled on a cashmere sweater, a scarf, a cozy hat, and my new faux shearling, softer than soft coat, and headed to the corner for my every-other-day, half-caff vanilla latte (speaking of candy asses). The yards were sheathed in the telltale sugar coating of frost, the buildings of downtown sparkling like glacial waters.
Then I heard a curious sound that stopped me in the middle of the street. A sound like thin ice cracking on the surface of a creek. Or like sweet potato chips fluttering down to earth. I looked up. From what I think was a big elm tree, leaves frozen overnight but now thawing in the sun were pouring off the branches and clicking in their half-frozen state onto the sidewalk. A beautiful, melancholy sound and sight. I breathed and listened, honoring the falling, the abrupt, half-graceful, half-awkward letting go after a long suspension. Maybe I could pull that off, maybe not. My soul sung its respect. And I embraced, finally, November.