For all the blah-blah-blah about how killer it is to live in Charleston, the Lowcountry of South Carolina lacks the beautiful season of autumn. This deficiency is especially heinous to us poetical, metaphor-embracing non-haters of Obama, because autumn represents harvest, fullness, and [sigh] impending decline.
Ideally, outside our windows would blaze a burst of colorful foliage that rages against the dying of the light. You could sit there by the window and read Wallace Stevens —
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams
And our desires. Although she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths,
The path sick sorrow took, the many paths
Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love
Whispered a little out of tenderness,
She makes the willow shiver in the sun
For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze
Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.
She causes boys to pile new plums and pears
On disregarded plate. The maidens taste
And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.
You could look up from Stevens and out of the window and see for yourself.
Down here, though, with our loblollies, live oaks, and palms, most leaves don’t change colors, and the ones that do go immediately from green to brown. Autumn down here is like moving aging summer from your house into the nursing home, an extended decline with its good days and bad days, mostly hot and humid, or to shift metaphors, like an older person not aging gracefully, sporting lurid inappropriately tucked-in tropical shirts when tweed blazers with elbow patches are in order.
But, on a more positive note, you could argue that autumns do occur down here but are much subtler. Look closely at the marsh; without your noticing, it’s gone from green to gold, like that Japanese maple you kidnapped and planted in the front of the house. Migrating birds flap their way overhead, like a checkmark, a positive sign that things are in motion the way they should be, and let’s not forget that the impending winter will undoubtedly be mild.
No, Thanksgiving, is not a time for whining about imperfection, but a time to be grateful for what we have, a time to engorge ourselves, to watch professional football players in their glory years before the CTE sets in.