Sunday, September 19, 2010

Case Study 71: "The Harvest Moon"

"Come a little bit closer
Hear what I have to say
Just like children sleepin'
We could dream this night away.

But there's a full moon risin'
Let's go dancin' in the light
We know where the music's playin'
Let's go out and feel the night."
- Neil Young

When autumn rolls in this Tuesday, I know just what I'm going to do.  I will fold the top down on our little BMW, pop in that old particular tape, and head out on a drive through the windy Connecticut backroads.  The air will be a little cooler and the trees will begin to sway more freely, like withering half-dressed skeletons against the night. 

I'll press play, and be greeted by the repeat of ten strumming chords, the same ones that will play the melody of a him and myself, dancing- in the kitchen, on the porch, in the lawn under the great tree with the dripping iron candelabra.  Turning and turning in the golden light knees knocking calves, elbows across shoulders, until the song breaks into those four deliciously picked notes. The same picked notes that I savored years earlier, lying on my back on the rug under the stereo, an eight-year old romantic with toes that swayed in the hazy waltz of the living room light.

Neil Young, "Harvest Moon."  The album with the haunting cover of a dark silhouette and fringe across the water's edge.  The song that made me yearn for the crackling fire, the hush of the woods, and the smell of burning gourds. The images that reminded me that, for all I ever believed myself to be a child of the summer, I was born under the stars of that flipped autumn sky. 
"The Harvest Moon" is a pumpkin and spice cupcake crowned with a cream cheese buttercream.  It is the most simple taste of autumn - in the flesh of the fruit, the cinnamon, the ginger, the nutmeg, all topped in a sweet cream - that evokes the unmistakable yearning for no other season but this.  Leaves sauntering through the sky.  The heavy crooked arms of apple trees bending to the ground in an abundant plie.  The shifting patterns of birds as they take flight to their winter homes.  The autumn dance.

It's not the fairest of the seasons, but it's the one that makes us remember what it means to be alive.  It reminds us that seasons come and seasons go, and it's the going that makes the coming all worthwhile in the end.  The sun rises and the sun sets.  Flowers bloom and leaves fall.  We run free in the summer and we hold each other tighter all winter long.  Life is both up and down, and as we see the turning of the days, the moon fades from white to orange and hangs lower in the sky.  We are never really ready for the fall, but when it arrives, like Neil says, we remember the dance. 

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