Anne M. Smith-Nochasak:
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Autumn has arrived. This is my favourite season, and yet today I am not content. My life has become a jumble of technology, the days tumbling together as I rush to complete a post, run an ad, respond to a request, develop a collage....
Last week, I spent three quiet days with minimal technology. I drafted reviews on the backs of sell sheets, jotted manuscript passages on loose leaf, read by candlelight, and listened to the night sounds. Occasionally, I activated my little generator to keep the freezer cool, warm up food, and heat some water. Like me, though, this generator does not respond well to pressure, and does not want to discover its personal breaking point. I enjoy and use technology, and I recognize its importance, but sometimes, some of us need a break.
Take today for example. I returned from a coyote-free walk with my dogs, and since yesterday I had caught up on yard and garden, and even given attention to laundry and vacuuming, I had many necessary online projects planned. Instead, I headed to the river for a short paddle, heading downstream along the floodplains this time. Usually, I prefer the little channels and winding ways upstream; it is more intimate somehow. The way downstream is so broad and open, but it is invigorating and has its own beauty. I chose downstream today.
The maples along the floodplain were of the gnarled, stunted variety, and by this point in September there were many sleek grey limbs exposed. There were, however, some leaves remaining this morning, clusters of rusted reds and oranges, dull greens tinted with yellow. The marsh grasses swayed on the banks, earthy green with brown highlights. I found the hiding place for my protagonist's boat in the shaded cove below the old farm, saw her secret neighbour's route along the flooded trail, pictured her discovery of the boat, traced this person's route as far as the turn, imagined her fumbling and splashing, struggling to her rendezvous. I would not allow her the headwind I had; she would need a calm day. This is a small but pivotal scene, and I smiled to think I was working. Research is sweet when it is experiential.
There are no ducks on the water. No swallows dip and dive. This is autumn, my favourite season, yet it has come too soon, and I am not ready to embrace it. My seasons crowd around me, and there are too few left. Family history suggests I have about seven good autumns ahead -- such a small number, it seems. I draw my paddle along the surface, right, then left. Voices rise around me, reproaching my unwashed floors, my unanswered messages, my lack of camera to capture the moment. The strokes become even; the voices, the thoughts, the undone things fade. The kayak skims forward, leaning into the day. The morning becomes mine, and if this is my last season, or my last moment, it no longer matters. Nothing in nature is wasted. I rise from the water, the day clean in my being.