When I was young, I would marvel at Brother Elias, for he was more accurate than a weathervane or a sailor's adage at predicting the weather. Some days, he would stand straight and spry, and on those days we knew the weather would be fair. But if he walked stooped, or slowly, and complained that the cold had gotten into his bones and stiffened them, we knew it would soon rain.
I am an old man now, and Alynn is starting to learn to tell the weather by me. I was moving slowly at breakfast this morning, and spiked my linden tea with willow, and she glanced at me compassionately.
"It's going to rain today, isn't it?" she asked.
I laughed at myself, though internally, lest my aching bones be set with a worse pain. "I wonder," said I, "why God made autumn. The rain, the chill--"
"But the trees turn," Alynn said, setting the porridge on the table. "And the asters grow, and the rabbits are fat, and the garden's ready for harvest--I don't mind the chill, the work warms me. I love harvest. Even the frost is beautiful."
"Frost kills the cabbages."
"Oh, come, Lukas. There has to be something you like about autumn."
"If you enjoy it, I'm content, my dear."
Alynn smiled. "Don't you enjoy going hunting?"
I'm rarely successful with a longbow--I make too much noise drawing it, I suppose, and frighten the deer before I can loose an arrow. But the rare successful hunt is enjoyable. "At times."
"You like fishing, don't you? All men like fishing."
"Fishing's a year-round sport, my dear. There's simply more pressure to get more fish in autumn."
"You like eating them, don't you?" A light shone in Alynn's eyes. "You like autumn because of the harvest, don't you? You can eat as much food as you like."
Out of all the things God made for our enjoyment on this earth, food is perhaps the most welcome to me. And small wonder, growing up with fasts and famines, and abundance of food associated only with Christmas and Easter.
Autumn may set an ache in my bones, but I'd nearly forgotten how well it quenched the ache of hunger. Even in the dreariest of seasons--in rains so cold it may as well be snow, in chill winds and hurried preparations for winter--there is some joy. I pray that I never lose sight of the flower hidden in the snowdrift.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.