The summer sun is fading as the year grows old
And darker days are drawing near.
The winter winds will be much colder
Now you’re not here.
—Justin Hayward, Forever Autumn
I’m not ashamed to admit how sad I felt to say goodbye to Aly last Saturday when she left for college (see Hand Me Down). We’ve done this the last several years, but this autumn may be one of the last times, as she’ll graduate when she finishes her last two quarters this coming spring. After that, she’ll make her way in the world to who-knows-where?
Listening to Justin Hayward’s Forever Autumn exacerbates my mood, or expresses my feelings better than I could, I don’t know which. Maybe it’s both at once. The song comes from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds project from the late 1970s, a musical retelling of the H.G. Wells science fiction classic. It’s really cool! You can also get it from The Best Of The Moody Blues. (Check your local independent music store, if you’ve got one.)
I first heard and fell in love with the song as a young disk jockey in Wrangell, Alaska. For me, it expressed perfectly the bittersweetness of autumn, the transition from the bright half of the year to the dark. I write along these lines every year at this time, starting with this post: The Circle of the Seasons: Autumn. Moreover, the lyrics (expressing the story’s narrator’s loss of his wife during the martian invasion) explicitly describe facing autumn without a loved one’s presence.
A large part of Autumn’s bittersweetness comes from the retun to school. We’re all indoctrinated into this from an early age, and I doubt it ever leaves us. Once we reach the age where it doesn’t affect us directly, many of us go through it again with children and grandchildren.
I knew I’d feel a bit sadder than usual after sending Aly back to college; listening to our playlist of autumnal themed songs, of which Forever Autumn may be considered somewhat of a signature piece, I knew that once she left, we’d turn further into autumn, and its bleaker, darker aspects might loom larger for the loss of her company. That’s kind of okay with me—a touch of melancholy can be good for the soul, provided it doesn’t become overpowering or incapacitating.
If not, there’s not much can be done about it, except to get on with the business of the “homestead.” And perhaps to play Forever Autumn a few more times before winter sets in.