As I brought my cleansed face up from the sink, still dripping, I raised my head to the mirror. Looking at the skin around my eyes and mouth, I sighed. The retinol, hyaluronic acid and 30 SPF lotion I had been using religiously this year didn’t stand a chance against this thirty year old face.
It was the beginning of October and the lush trees that sheltered my fourth floor apartment windows were beginning to change. The living room welcomed the soft glow of 6 o’clock sunlight, as the rays stretched across my Persian rug, illuminating the patterns of orange and blue as if on display.
I lived in a heritage building, built in 1928, so naturally it was a character-styled suite. Each window and doorway were hugged with a thick wooden chestnut frame, and who knows how many coats of paint were layered on the walls. In winter, the radiators transformed my apartment into a dry sauna. They would whistle and clang as they turned on and I knew I needed to hurry to drape my towel over one of them if I wanted to replicate the “out of the dryer” warmth for my evening shower. In the summer, the faint sounds of busses passing and children playing would waft through my opened windows, while I parked myself in front of my air-conditioning unit.
I left my suite to take in the crisp, fall air and to embrace the time I had left to be comfortable outside before winter temperatures. The sidewalk was slightly damp and the air smelled of wet leaves and soil. A couple cozied arm and arm gave me a smile and a friendly nod as they passed me and I tried to give a believable, polite smile back. It is hard to feel optimism when everything around me is now dying. All the flowers and leaves spring birthed and summer nurtured were now shrivelling up and slowly decaying. Just like me.
Turning left, I took a path down towards the river and found a wooden bench to sit on. I tucked my fingers under my thighs, closed my eyes and inhaled the air. Eyes still closed, I lengthen my spine and let out a loud exhale. I leaned forward to stare at my feet. Mahogany mulch chips covered the ground below me. I took one more inhale but this time leaning backwards and turning my face towards the sky. One hundred year old elm trees stood tall above me, dressed in amber and crimson colours. As I slowly released my exhale, the wind seemed to join me as it burst through the branches of the elms and, like you do with confetti, tossed the brightly coloured leaves in the air. As the leaves swayed left and right, moving downward toward the mulch, a visceral feeling came over me. Fall is not about death, I thought, it is about change.
Fall shows us how beautiful and painless change can be. The leaves give us one last glimpse of warmth before trees shed, and with serenity, simply change. Innately, effortlessly, and what I am wanting to emulate, with purpose. These elm trees survive the frigid, cold of winter and when it’s time, they change again. No amount of harsh weather can prevent buds from blooming in the spring. Despite the death of the leaves, and the flowers, life is seen once again. Change occurred, but didn’t conquer. I began walking back to my apartment feeling lighter than when I left and ready for the metamorphosis that was to come.
Jessica Jones is a teacher living in the Manitoba prairies. For the past year she has been actively writing and sharing her experiences with co-dependency, alcoholism, and the impact it’s had on her and her relationships. Her interests include psychology, photography, and her brand-new podcast called Mulch. For more stories and articles by Jessica follow her on Instagram @from.mulch, listen to her podcast Mulch or visit her website frommulch.com.