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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Indian Summer

The early morning sky is still dark and the air slightly brisk as we roll down runway 20L in Nashville. My captain and I are both worn out and bleary-eyed after a long day and much too short of an overnight.
Over the horizon, a thin sliver of red and gold spreads as we fly toward it on our way to Washington. We gain altitude rapidly in the morning air and within only moments the sun appears ahead of us, bright and comforting, to light up the whole sky.
It soon bathes the countryside below in its warm golden embrace and softly caresses my cheek like a familiar hand. Lost in the breathtaking beauty of the sunrise, I suddenly notice that the mountains have gone from green to bright red and orange. As far as the eye can see, the rolling hills of Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia appear to be ablaze.
In my side window, I catch a glimpse of my face smiling back at me. Those beautiful warm autumn days, those of the Indian summer, are upon us. And what better vantage point to admire their stunning beauty than my trusty jet-powered steed. I am truly one of the fortunate ones.

This is my very favorite time of year, pleasing to every sense. There are of course the stunning vistas of autumn, endless aerial palettes of hundreds of gradations of greens, yellows, oranges and reds, neighborhoods dotted with explosions of warm colors, placid lakes that seem to be on fire as their gentle waters mirror the magic surrounding them.
All these shades bring to mind the comforting foods of fall, the apples and squash, the warm pies and roasts that are so welcomed on those cooler days.
Autumn also carries in its gentle breeze the comforting smells that transport me back to my childhood. The distinct sweet scent of maple leaves remind me of Forli, the small town in northern Italy where my grandmother lives. I remember cycling through its streets with my mother and brothers amid a sea of dried leaves. The familiar aroma of fires brings back cherished memories of school days in Europe and weekends spent helping my parents in the back yard or playing with my brothers and friends.
To some the season is gloomy, spelling the end of summer and especially in the Northeast the beginning of the short, dark and frigid days of winter. A symbol of death.

But as I watched my son play in the leaves after a walk in the woods a few days ago, his curious eyes completely mesmerized by the unique beauty of each leaf he brought to me, I couldn't think of it as anything but a stunning season of renewal.
A few days after that crisp morning flight, we returned to Nashville. As we crossed into West Virginia, the red mountain tops were covered in a dusting of snow. It was early in the morning and I knew that once the rising sun had a chance to warm the hilltops, the white coat would retreat and allow the brilliant colors below to resplend. It did. On our way back to Washington a few hours later, the ground below us was once again an endless field of fiery colors.

The days of the Indian Summer are short-lived. And like every year they fill me with the urge to enjoy each day to its fullest, to cherish every warm second before winter rolls its cold blanket on us.
Warm moments. Just like that beautiful autumn walk with Ollie...


9 Comments:

Blogger Craig said...

Nice post, you capture the beauty of it all in Fall well. Many of my memorable flights this year are to or from BNA out of PHL or DCA. I think autumn is my favorite season also. Except for picking up leaves. Take care friend, winter is on the way.

Craig

9:17 PM  
Blogger Capt. Wilko said...

Raking is actually on the agenda tomorrow before the snow decides to show up! Comes and goes quickly, huh?

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