When this pandemic started here in the northeastern US, when the federal government first set out its guidelines to flatten the curve so early in the year, and when states initiated their own stay at home orders, I (like most others) didn’t foresee this thing would go on until fall – all the way to the autumnal equinox. But here we are. We are well into September, and autumn is just beginning.

Living in Vermont (as a transplant from Southern New England where it is a bit less cold), I am already wary when autumn arrives, even though I love the season. I know that fall will be short-lived here, and quickly on its heels will come the long, cold months of winter. Another season I love, but one that is experienced differently in the farther north. And as someone who has practiced Paganism in varying ways for most of my life, I have always recognized the natural power of the seasons. Still, COVID-19 has produced a kind of weird perception of the passage of time – months may feel like they are plodding along slowly at times, until I suddenly realize I am in yet another one, the year seeming to disappear behind me. I expect that with this autumn I will even more sharply feel the close death of things, as fields around me go brown, doors and windows stay shut to the chill, and the sun heads down sooner in the day. I am not sure, I could be wrong… but I think autumn may not be quite as joyous or invigorating as it usually is. I feel like the darker months may start sooner, to put it simply, or at least feel as if they are.

Clouding my mood on this, is having been informed that I still cannot be permitted to see my dad in person, due to restrictions where he lives. It is also the constantly changing – and often contradictory – updates on this virus, and how we are supposed to be preventing its spread. The news, in general, is maddening. And of course, we have the ugliness of the current election, and the divisiveness that desperation has created on all sides.

Anyway… all of that being said, I have been getting out into nature daily, and expect to enjoy fall as much as I can by continuing to do so. My husband and I hiked eight miles this past Sunday, and during the week we generally go four or five miles every day. The sun has been shining beautifully, the air is crisp and scented with apples, and rugged, rocky trails are dappled with light through changing leaves. Unchanged through the pandemic, the beauty of nature remains stunning.

I don’t think I’m going to do anything specific to celebrate the entrance of fall this year, other than note it, take a deep breath or few, and welcome it and the passage into another season of 2020.