When Ash Wednesday Comes in October


End of the Mardi Gras Photo by Joseph Hesch © 2016

When the carny month of October begins descending into November and from there to the passing of the year, it will play the bait and switch with your spirit. The trees don their autumn raiment, turning from lively greens to gleaming golds, bleeding reds and sunburst oranges, only to fly away with your polychromatic joy in windblown death spirals of russet and fawn. Today, October’s grifting insult bordered on injury, shouldering a shivering chill from the north armed with a hybrid ammunition where the temperature’s too cold for rain and too warm for snow. It’s as if the clouds are spitting with derision upon your windshield as you drive by the sad maples and oaks, drooping in their now-tattered costumes like stranded and drenched Mardi Gras revelers, the detritus of autumn at their feet. It’s as if they know the Ash Wednesday of this year is upon us all.

The idea for this piece came from a short drive to the store, past the gray-shrouded maples, in the plastic precipitation that splatted upon my windshield and hung there in a 41-degree insult to the driver who enjoyed an 80-degree day just this week. That’s autumn up here in this land of perpendiculars, where the Mohawk and Hudson meet, tucked into the elbow of the Adirondacks and Berkshires, surrounded by the vertical beauty of the carnival of broadleaf trees, fully knowledgeable that next week you’ll be picking their shabby clothes off their bedroom floor outside your window. The photo above is by the writer, whose view and mood are at perpendiculars today, too.

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