The low gray clouds come rolling in from the north, like the sails of Spanish galleons billowing in the wind. Overnight our Indian Summer has fled from the onslaught of the cold Canadian air. The trees bow their heads and shake their leaves in the wind like sirens drying their hair upon the seashore. Living here along the roof of America, we get used to such swings in the weather. On armistice day in 40` a blizzard struck so quickly that duck hunters froze to death in their waders. This is why we wear our weather like a purple heart.
Autumn is a cacophony of voices, a swirl of emotions, a tempestuous mistress, and the all time motherload of overwrought prose.
Sorry, I got a little carried away there. What I meant to say was this, “it’s getting colder and the autumn colors and swirling wind are carrying my memories away like a falling leaf…”
OK, sorry. I’ll stop now. I promise.
Fall in Minnesota reminds me of my college years in Northern New York. There is just something incredibly romantic, and exciting about the change of the seasons at this latitude that makes my heart sing out, and inspires me to extremes of verbosity. Whenever summer ended, and I set off for another interminable winter in the North Country, I couldn’t help but feel bittersweet about it. With a male to female ratio of about 5 to 1, Clarkson was a cold, lonely place for a guy. I may as well have been joining a monastery. All I was missing was a hairshirt, and a pair of sandals. Leaving behind my best friends, and all the women in my life for another year of calculus, and thermodynamics always brought on a depression. If not for the stunning beauty of the season, I would have surely tied a cinderblock around my neck and gone swimming in the Racquette River.
My autumns in Potsdam were among the most beautiful ones I have ever experienced. The maple trees just glowed like hot coals on those windy afternoons. Even the coming permaclouds of October couldn’t dampen the season. Pumpkins and corn stalks always look more poignant when covered with the early morning frost. The days would shrink away until it seemed that half the day was either sunrise or sunset, and the scraps of clouds blowing in front of the moon at night sent delightful chills down my spine. This is why it only seems natural that Wes Craven had been inspired to write Nightmare on Elm Street while living and teaching in Potsdam.
The place is alive with ghosts.
While I never actually saw one, I could feel them moving through the town. Whether walking the streets, or climbing the hill for class, I ached with the pain and longing of those wandering souls. During senior year, we left town behind and rented the upstairs of an old farmhouse in the countryside. Even there the ghosts moved through the walls as easily as the winter wind. Was it any wonder that I nearly went mad?
The story of young men coming of age at Eastern Colleges is almost as much of a cliché as poems about foliage, so I will spare you a book length effort. Hell, I’ve blogged on about my trials and tribulations at great length already, so I will try to keep this short.
I cried again.
In the end, I survived.
My heart is wounded still.
Autumn is like that.