It’s That Time Again. . .

As autumn sneaks in the back door to the summer I didn’t get, and winter looms dark and heavy just beyond the fence, doing nothing for long periods of time feels easier than doing something. My bear-self is preparing for hibernation—I can feel it in my bones.

Most people run about ridiculously happy to be done with the hot, sticky, summer weather. They ooo and aah about the change of seasons, the touch of crispness in the air, the leaves shifting from green to the red-gold spectrum. They use words like invigorating. They’re out and about—they exercise and stretch those muscles that went dormant with lazy summer days. They even jog, for heaven sake. Dinners are laden with root vegetables and stews, pastas and breads. Pumpkins are popping up everywhere. I even saw an artificial Christmas tree at Costco over the weekend. I mean, really?

I have an atavistic response to autumn—maybe because I grew up in the Midwest, where autumn is short-lived, and is followed by months of bleak, colorless days of unbelievably cold weather. My bear cells begin to multiply as I take on extra weight, experience a bleary-eyed lethargy that comes with the change of seasons. I eat more than I’m hungry for in preparation for the next five months of hibernation when I lose my appetite. I move less, and lumber when movement is required. It wouldn’t surprise me if one day I sprouted a full body of thick fur.

My human experience is one of losing my words. My brain slows down, and word retrieval is sketchy at best. New ideas have to wait until spring, when the blood flows more smoothly to my brain. My heart takes up a hypnotic thump-pause, thump-pause rhythm. My extremities are always cold. I crave the quiet, solitude of my little cave-cottage, and get cranky at a life that yanks me out of my comfort zone daily. I would be blissfully happy sitting in one spot, wrapped in a blanket—just point me toward a blank wall. And, turn up the heat, please.

Fortunately, this response lasts only a matter of days. I can feel it creeping about the perimeter of my psyche, like an old bear sniffing out a warm, dry cave to hole up in. If you need to reach me, and phone, e-mail, and snail-mail haven’t been effective, perhaps you could leave a note under a rock just outside my cave. I’ll get to it.