Nature
8:35 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Poor Will's Almanack: October 16 - 22, 2012

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will's Almanack for the second week of Middle Fall.

The season is sending messages. Migrating flocks of birds, sometimes large enough to stretch across the sky, remind the commuter and trucker that ice and snow lie ahead. The urgent call of the geese, common at this time of year, evokes an autumnal restlessness. As the days shorten, sheep and goat owners pay attention to the signs that their does and ewes are cycling. And even human conceptions are said to increase as the weather cools.

The hormonal changes that are related to these phenomena can also produce a seasonal "high" of several weeks or more between the transition time from late summer to early fall and the beginning of late fall (after most of the maple leaves come down).

Optimism can often run wild during this period. Projects that seemed impossible or inadvisable in the oppressive afternoons of July now appear feasible. Career choices, decisions to take on a second job, to apply for a promotion, to propose marriage or to retire are often made more easily at this time of year. Buoyed by the surge of autumn energy, we feel we are invincible.

Every fall I conclude that I will never really be who I might be unless I follow all the reckless intuitions that accompany leafturn. During that time alone, I sometimes think, I know myself the best, am least afraid, least hesitant, most honest, most daring. What if I could always be like I am in late October, I ask myself. I would live with anticipation, ready and willing to become all the things that my body tells me it could become. Unbound by things such as reason and economy, I might break free and find the answer to all the promises biology has programmed deep inside me.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Middle Fall. In the meantime, ride your seasonal high.

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