Indian summer seemed never to want to end. Our afternoons and weekends have been lovely, golden and warm, bright as only October afternoons can be, earth-scented and clean but rich, like my grandfather's bait box. The trees have been bashful, their leaves slow to change their colors but those that have fallen have been sturdy and crisp with just enough music still locked away in them so that they crackle and sigh melodiously when stepped upon and pushed through, rising up before us like waves before a ship's bow. I have bragged about our weather, extolling its virtues to loved ones, half believing it would never end. A year ago we'd had nearly fifty-six inches of snow before Halloween even arrived, but this year––this blessed October!––the sun has stayed with us, tantalized us with promises that it would not leave, whispered warmly, its lips pressed against our cheeks.
And then the wind came.
I laid in bed last night, Duncan and the cats curled around me in snug little balls and listened to it batter the brick walls of my building, gasped when it leapt over the roof and across the eves, pummeled the windows and shook my room. After a while the long burst dwindled into one continuous, faraway liquid moan and I couldn't help but wonder as I drifted off if this was what it sounded like in the womb.
Many of the trees were naked this morning, their leaves scattered deep and wide across the lawns. Autumn had been slow to come but it arrived with a terrible booming howl that refused to be ignored. Great branches had been torn out of the elms and aspens and were scattered like discarded bones everywhere we turned. Even the light was somehow different, faded like the newspaper clippings my grandmother hung on her refrigerator doors.
I was not thrilled for our walk tonight and thought perhaps I could simply stroll with Duncan down to The Glen where we would play in the last of the cold sunlight, but Roo would have none of it. He dragged me across the street to the park, free of the children and their side-line parents, where he could run unfettered off-leash. I simply stood there, my mittened hands thrust deep into my pockets, the collar of my jacket pulled up high around my neck. My hair, which is longer than it has been in a very long time, blew around my ears and across my forehead in new but familiar ways while I squinted against the biting wind and watched Duncan run in circles, from branch to branch, sliding nose-first through the leaves. I was impatient and tired, eager to retire indoors, but he hunted down a heavy stick, as long as I am tall and as thick as my wrist, and brought it to me. I tossed it and watched it spin like the blades of a helicopter into the dim evening, carried further than I expected by a long, loud gust. He darted after it, brought it to me, but would not let go. He pulled and turned and trotted away, dragging me behind him. My laugh rose up over the wind, sudden and unexpected in my ears, and encouraged him to pull harder. Soon we were running side by side, both of us clutching the branch, the wind, cold and lovely, carrying us along like low-flying birds. I had not expected to find joy there, but my smile and Duncan's vast wisdom knew better. He knew there was more outside the windows and across the street than cold and prying ice-fingers against my neck and up my sleeves. He'd listened to the wail all day from his perch at the end of my bed, learning its songs and celebration, and somehow managed to teach us both to fly.
"The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. The answer is blowin' in the wind." (Bob Dylan)