Autumn has a certain way with me. Every year I sense its arrival through a shift transpiring in a different dimension. Poets attempt to articulate this plane with words like “the inner world” (Rutgers) or “the strange and dark side of the divine” (L ´Engle). My friend Anne identifies it as the part of heaven on earth to which artists have access when they are creating. It is most certainly ethereal in source. I accessed it again a few weeks ago as my daughter and I sat on a bench overlooking a nearby lake. Bathed in wind, the quiet company of ducks and the rustle of trees, our faces bore witness to a unified, sublime happiness.
Last week the window opened again, but in an overtly banal setting. Standing in front of the vegetable aisle at Lidl, the overhead lamps doused everything in harsh, white light. The refrigerated shelves radiated cold, crisp air and hummed the holding-in-place of bagged salad and day-old pastries. A recycling machine nearby whistled and squeaked. Occasionally, this subtle symphony was broken by the sound of swinging rubber flaps parting to reveal the store´s back warehouse. Each movement regurgitated a blue-vested employee pushing an overloaded cart of shrink-wrapped boxes and crates.
With my daughter in her stroller and my hands resting on its Styrofoam grip, my focus gradually narrowed to the zucchini and eggplant nestled in cardboard and plastic before us. Forest green and aubergine blurred into other, imagined colors of fall vegetables waiting to fill the cubbies next to them: sun-tinted pumpkin; bumpy, yellow squash; red-leafed cabbage; mauve and hairy sweet potatoes. My arms, covered in the length of an emerald v-neck sweater, and my legs, draped in crisp maternity denim, felt shielded from the chill of the wind outside.
The store around the vegetable aisle blended into a mad, muted haze of discount prices and primary hues when suddenly, I anticipated and yearned for umpteen different experiences: apple cider on the couch under a blanket; jack-o-lanterns; sidewalks covered in crunchy brown foliage; the orange and black flags tied to lampposts at the Village Venture Faire on Yale Street; sugar-coated Halloween cookies at Some Crust Bakery; the peripatetic length of Piedmont Avenue from Dwight to Ashby; Asiago bagels; BART, the N Judah and lawns of Golden Gate Park; Target stores full of nylon costumes and marshmallow ghosts; purple armchairs at Starbucks; volumes of unread poetry and New Yorker magazines at Barnes and Noble; the red door near Broadway and 113th Street; the tree-lined edge of Riverside Drive; drinking green tea with my mother at the kitchen table; the birch she planted; Tigermilk bars, deli sandwiches and Jamba Juice smoothies…
Autumn has a certain way with me. Whatever that way is, makes no rational sense, as its arrival causes everything to be abruptly here, there, then, and now. But nothing needs to make sense on that plane: “The heart has its reasons, which reason cannot comprehend” (Pascal).
© 2009 Anastasia Hacopian. All rights reserved.