My favorite season of the year to row is Autumn. Sometimes with others, most often alone.
Boat traffic on the lake is minimal; the trees along the shoreline are resplendent in color; not a sound is heard but the rhythmic splash of the oars and my labored breathing; and eventually the red and yellow leaves will layer the water’s black surface creating a carpet of color separated by the wake left behind my narrow, fragile shell, whirl-pooled behind the blades.
Sometimes I imagine myself sculling through the stars.
Perhaps that’s where I should have been when the phone rang. I recognized the number so didn’t take the call. It was threatening. Again.
Like dark foreboding clouds pregnant with rain, their soon arrival heralded by the stirring of the leaves, the troubling of the otherwise glass-like water, the words left on the recorder were brooding, burdening, impending of a storm, rocking my fragile emotions.
Sometimes it’s the call with news we never want to hear; a medical prognosis that confirms our worst fear; an unjust accusation that is most difficult to bear.
We are not secure, none of us are, against cares and losses.
Our lives are not fairy tales, our days ahead not defined by those idyllic last six words of a child’s bedtime reading fantasy.
Ironically, it is the degradation, decay, and death that in fact describe what happens to the green leaves of summer that magically transforms them into the myriad shades of red, yellow, purple, black, orange, pink, magenta, blue and brown.
Colors that have been in the leaf all its life begin to show through, but only as “the masking effect slowly fades away.”
What a source for beauty is the forced relinquishing of our masks.