Autumn is approaching, and San Francisco is sweltering in an Indian summer. In the city where I live and practice my profession, September is our most California-like month. The air goes still and briny as the breeze wanes, and drapes itself heavily on the roofs and hills. The clouds dance with delight in a painterly way. Our Junes and Julys are gloomy, to many a tourist’s surprise, as if the fog has gathered from afar, and migrated here for the summer. As the tourists begin to leave, the city glows with a diffuse, cottony, almost silky light. Swimsuits replace wetsuits as the sea is warm before the winter chill, and the beaches are dotted with surfers. That’s fall in my City by the Bay.
Autumn in San Francisco is when balmy nights lead to blissful, restful sleep, and to a focus regained. As school starts, the sweaters and scarves emerge. Productivity surges, along with traffic, as minds return from all corners of the earth to think everyday thoughts, and perform everyday rituals. Budgets tighten as memories of Bora Bora fade gracefully like an ancient memory. Gone are the lazy afternoons, the nectarines and peaches left uneaten, and late afternoon naps that fuel the evening flurry. The change in countenance of the city’s many faces replaces the colorful foliage of the New England autumn.
Why not remember to play when the wind sweeps all the warmth away? Why not take a moment to breath, to just stand and watch the golden light as the days fail sooner, as the birds steer gracefully south? Perhaps playing is exactly what is needed as autumn sets in. Instead of filling the mind’s nooks with obligations, meetings, health care, politics, PTA, financials and homework, take a brief moment to play and delight, like a child with a bright new toy. A perfect time to take play a little more seriously.
Autumn, with its tremendous force of change, its leaves going up in flame by slow degrees, its rush of wind and its earth fertile with pumpkins, is ripe for a little lightness of being. We should taste the last of the blackberries, play a little football, tell stories by campfire, toast to friendship and find other ways to keep summer alive. The waves will soon rise powerfully in the sea near my home, replacing the dead surf of summer. I’ll be swimming into them, negotiating a ride when I can, and letting them carry me back to shore.