Sometimes I wonder if I left my sense of humor back in summer.
I’m smiling less. Brilliant, sun-soaked flowers are fading fast. Blues freeze to grays, and yellows burn to browns.
Fall is a season of fluctuation. The corners of my mouth seem to rise and fall with the weather.
“Don’t let the weather get you down,” says a friend. “Curl up with a book and some hot cocoa.”
As a foreigner in Japan, I’m noticing the seasons change, but I can’t find my usual autumn comforts.
I’m a bit thrown off.
Sweet beans become my chocolate, figs my fruit of choice.
There’s an unidentifiable smell in the air. I can’t tell if it’s a flower at its peak or a plum tree beyond its prime. Winter looms too close for me.
When the wind blows, the leaves rustle at my feet. I’m callously floating, being blown around.
And then one day I ask my students what their favorite season is. Everyone always says fall or spring.
“Winter,” he says.
“Why?” I retort with an unconscious defensiveness.
“It’s peaceful time.”
“It’s A peaceful time.” But my correction seems less about correcting.
Those words are gnawing at me.
* * *
The days are getting shorter. My eyes linger a little longer on the sunsets.
The nights are getting cooler. I’m snuggling deeper into my comforter. I think there’s a print of my body in its folds.
I crave steaming pots of tea and soup.
As I settle into this new season, I have to shed my old habits.
There’s a hole where traces of summer used to dwell.
I’m slowly filling it with the Japanese version of hot cocoa and marshmellows.
Maybe winter can be “peaceful time” for me, too.