Flush with fall, memories flood in

Carol Cole Czeczot
Guest columnist

Like most of us blessed to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I love this time of year.  Autumn conjures and blends exhilaration, a sense of anticipation, and a dash of melancholy into a rich, savory stew. Some of my memories, reflections, and impressions of this season include ...

While living in my native Florida, I sometimes felt indignant when people declared there was no change of seasons. The shifts were there; you just had to pay attention. I remember the way the ocean color would subtly change, deepening into indigo and then a midnight-blue inkiness.

Leaves assembled by Carol Czeczot.

I also remember the precious, crisp fall days that occasionally graced us in Daytona Beach, prompting frisky dog dances and invigorating us humans. One Halloween, as my brothers and I went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, our orange-and-white family feline followed us under the full moon, darting from shrub to shrub, hiding and leaping, channeling her inner black cat.

Carol Cole Czeczot

I recall the exhilaration of my first “real” autumn, at college in Memphis, Tennessee, two months after Elvis died … walking under the live oaks, marveling at the changing leaves, feeling the satisfying crunch of dry ones crackling underfoot … the sense of possibility now a dizzy mix with new ideas from my studies and sly glances exchanged with classmates …. attending my first college football game, the flawless blue sky and electric atmosphere elevating spirits whatever the score … parties and socials, music drifting through doors, romances glimpsed and considered.

I feel the tinge of melancholy that dims the shortened days and shedding trees. Chills deepen and linger; silver-gray bleeds the blue from the skies.

I cherish the new life that beckoned when my husband and I relocated to the mountains in the autumn of 2010; the leaves were past peak but their gaudy glory lingered, enticing us to abandon packed boxes and gawk. The season’s delicate poignancy mirrored the autumnal stage of our lives – inevitably moving toward desolation, but full of blazing beauty and ripe possibility nonetheless.

I reflect on subsequent autumns spent walking our roads, savoring the season’s first wood smoke wafting from a neighbor’s chimney, stooping to select “just one more” bright leaf-badge of the day, a deck of diamonds in my hand to share with Mike.

I salute the stirring of winds that call to my soul, instructing it to act, or maybe just to heed the restless answers within. The trees bow and reach and speak, huddling and holding their counsel, and I strain to hear their secrets as their shed leaves twirl to the ground.

Carol Cole Czeczot, an artist, actor and journalist, moved to the Black Mountain area on Nov. 1, 2010, with her husband, Mike, and their two cats – and brought her passion for nature with her.