The fickle fruits of summer are fading now. Green goes to gold, soft petals give way to durable seeds under clouds that sweep lower and darker in the sky.

Autumn makes her burnished entrance. No springy pastels or summery glitter herald her arrival. Instead, gloriously muted shades of russets, orange and fading green move into the center of the palate, act as her calling card.

Who knew aging and decay could be so gorgeous?

Have you ever tried to count the infinite shades of brown that fall from trees, nestle amongst stones, and huddle in ditches? Like the nap on a yard of velvet, a slight change in direction reveals the tonal richness of these humble colors.

After the shiny brightness of summer, our senses walk a more measured pace in the calming act of change, hibernation and loss. The blithe warm days snap sharply on the first frosty morning.

Fair-weather foliage may wither and tumble, but the roots remain strong and steadfast. Hidden deep in mute brown soil, they knot and brace for harsher months ahead.

These roots are like that one faithful friend you have. You know her; she’s quietly present, isn’t the gregarious type. And yet, when the weather turns colder and the winds threaten to topple us, her calmness keeps us grounded and steady. She’s the one that holds the umbrella over you when everyone has dashed indoors to shelter from the rain. She hands you chocolate, wine, a doughnut when life threatens your clarity. She talks you off emotional ledges, reduces scary monsters to shadow puppets on the wall.

You don’t have someone like that in your world, you say?

But you do.

Look in the mirror. She’s standing right in front of you, and try as you might, you will never get her to leave you.

Even when you ignored her, she was there. She whispered to you, asking you to try, just one more time. She ignited your resolved, tipped your chin up and wheeled you forward. She helped you don your battle armor, and celebrated success, failure and life with you. Just as importantly, she told you when to walk away, to regroup and choose another path. She protected you.

She was your root.

She still is.

She always will be.

I’m firmly middle aged now. My glossy summer season is behind me. Oh, there are flashes of it, like the last rose that blooms just before the first hard frost of the season. But the shadows relentlessly get longer and the sun travels lower in my heavens. Less glitter, more velvet; that’s the fabric of my world.

Things are calmer, slower and lovelier than ever before. Less distracts me, and so I see the woman in the mirror more clearly. Together we trace every wrinkle, worry over every gray hair, and push up each sagging chin line. We toast our victories with thimbles of champagne. We giggle loudly, because somehow, we can now that we’re older. We rage against the cruelties of the world, and we resolve to make the world kinder.

We make a pact that we will make every day count, and that we will forgive ourselves more.  We will take guiltless joy in both days where we beard the lion, and in days spent counting grass leaves. We will comfortable with our strength.

In this autumn, she is my root.

She always has been.

She always will be.

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