“Quando, Lídia, vier o nosso Outono
Com o Inverno que há nele, reservemos
Um pensamento, não para a futura
Primavera, que é de outrem,
Nem para o Estio, de quem somos mortos,
Senão para o que fica do que passa —
O amarelo actual que as folhas vivem
E as torna diferentes.”
Ricardo Reis, in Odes
So it’s Thanksgiving week, time to appreciate the harvest that fills our tables… Or so it was, in 1621. Thanksgiving now is a day to celebrate family, friends and to look with gratefulness to all blessings that help us go through life…
Brazil doesn’t have Thanksgiving, maybe because the Portuguese that took over our land back in 1500 were so grateful for the gold they found, they decided to celebrate back in Europe, not in Brazilian grounds, trying to keep a low profile… Being thankful for gold and all the natural resources they stole from our native indians wouldn’t be exactly well seen… Christmas has become, therefore, the Holiday to practice being grateful, even if we do it under 104 degrees while decorating a pine tree we don’t have, with fake snowflakes (which we also don’t have) and waiting for a dehydrated Santa Claus who never seems to dress up appropriately for the tropical Summer he will face.
I have incorporated gratefulness a long time ago, when I first started practicing Yoga. Saying thanks before every practice is a very important part of the hindu culture, and it became a way for me to connect with something sacred, since I’m not religious at all. Being thankful is, to me, a way to send good energies to the Universe that has given me so much.
I could go over a list of things and people I’m so grateful for, but I would fall into a cliche swamp I dread and a swamp is, right now, not a good place to be at… You might be drained out of it, and I’m quite happy where I am…
Yes, I’m grateful for my family, even if they drive me nuts at least 4 times a day… Yes, I’m grateful for my health, for my friends, for Skype and FaceTime (which allow me to see the part of the family that does not drive me nuts 4 times a day, but mainly because they are far away) and of course I’m grateful for the amazing experiences I had in the 40 years of Earth life so far. My travels, my readings, my students, my teachers… Heck, I’m drowning in this swamp again…
Today I want to be grateful for something different. I’m grateful for the Fall. Even more than that, I’m grateful for the four seasons. Growing up in the tropics, you end up with two seasons only: hot and cold. The nuances of change don’t happen in places close to the Equator. Living in Virginia has shown me how the ancient human beings might have felt as they watched nature taking its course. This might not make any sense to many of my Brazilian friends, but it feels amazing to have Fall and Spring, not “less hot going into cold” and “not so cold going into hot” months. I love Fall.
Every day I’m in awe with the yellow leaves that contrast so beautifully with the dark brown tree trunk… In the early hours the sun cuts its way through the branches and gives us this astonishing light we miss because we are in a hurry to drive the kids to school… The red Maple leaves are my favorite Fall feature, and I love it so much for many reasons: As a kid, I would never color a tree red, and looking at a bright red tree still makes me feel like a child who broke the rules and is teasing reality with a green sky drawing. Also, the Maple tree goes dry quickly, filling the sidewalks with red piles my kids and I love to jump on… And of course, reminds me that life goes by fast, so you might as well enjoy the dry leaves pile and have some fun…
Don’t get me started on Fall flavors… I couldn’t agree more with the Pilgrims who first had a slice of Pumpkin Pie or smelled corn bread coming from the wood oven… Harvest was to be celebrated because it’s freaking delicious. And some years (or centuries later), I thank the same harvest which opened a road to Trader Joe’s everything Pumpkin: cereal, pancake mix, chocolate, pasta, and most important, pumpkin beer! I cannot be drained off the swamp!! I wouldn’t survive without my pumpkin beer!
Fall brings cooler days, and slowly guides us to chilling ones… Nothing is abrupt, nothing is immediate, it’s a transition… Fall is mature, Fall is the place my journey fits, as Fernando Pessoa so well translated into words… I’m going through the beginning of my Fall in the best place imaginable, where I can have Mother Nature guide me through the years to come with the wisdom I wouldn’t fine elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I miss the sharp tropical light that made me who I am, and I can still see the contrast between the green palm trees and the deep blue sky screaming for fried fish and Caipirinhas at ocean side, but as for now, I’m enjoying the soft Fall light mixture of red, yellow and brown, showing me where I should go…