It is a rainy and gray in Lagos, as the keeper of sacred law begins her descent into despair, anticipating the return of her daughter to the underworld. According to myth, this is the time when the goddess Demeter begins to grow sad, thinking about her daughter, Persephone, leaving her to return to Hades. As a result, the earth begins to lose its life and become increasing barren. When Persephone departs, the land falls into winter until the time when Demeter anticipates the return of her daughter.
Now, there are other interpretations of the myth. The alternative version has the barren period as the dry Mediterranean summer, when life was threatened by drought. For most people, that version does not work and it does not square with the sophistication of the people who created the myth. It’s the sort of thing a certain sort of person says in order to be disruptive. The Greeks understood not only the cycle of life, but the consequences that came from ignoring or denying this natural reality.
That’s probably why autumn has such a magical quality to it for most European people, at least those with a grip on reality. There is the beauty of it, of course, but that beauty is followed by winter. It is the ability to appreciate the majesty of nature, even when you know what follows, that separates people. On one side are those who long for an endless summer, where they never have to think about tomorrow. On the other side are those who accept the cycle of life and the reality of the human condition.
Even in a place like Lagos, the beauty of the season is impossible to miss, unless you are one of those summer people. There are those who prefer summer to winter, but would not want to live in a land without seasons. Then there are those who spend their winter bitching about the cold, swearing oaths about how this is the last winter in wherever it is there is winter. If you are around these sorts, autumn in made even better, as you get to see their torment against the backdrop of the fall foliage.
Being a level-headed occidental man, I love this time of year. Yesterday morning I got out on a bike path in the country. The leaves are just starting to turn around here. For some reason, fall has been late this year. Perhaps Demeter got her hopes up that this time things would be different. Maybe she took a class on feminism and died her hair blue, until Zeus came down and straightened here out. Women, even the supernatural ones, need a man to keep them in line. That too is the nature of things.
Out on the path, I did not encounter many people. Around Lagos, spring is when people get out and do their walking, hiking and riding. As spring turns to summer, the number of people I will see out in the woods will shrink until the fall, when it is down to the hardy souls who are outside all year round. This is true of fishing. If you are a fall fisherman, this is one of the better times, as you have the river to yourself. The people inside don’t know what they are missing, but then again, those outside don’t miss them.
This time of year in this part of the world brings the white tail rut. It is the time of year when a young buck goes in search of a bride. In reality, it is when they go insane chasing tail to the point of exhaustion. It is one of those things that you can explain to a city person and they suddenly become wiser about life. Urbanization has cut most people off from the reality of life, like the breeding cycle of animals, which means they can fill their heads with crazy ideas at odds with the human condition.
I think the thing I like most about this time of year is the shorter days or that the days are growing shorter. I am at my most productive in the fall and winter, as the ever shorter days reminds me that I have only so much time. When the sun is up until a few hours before bed time, it feels like time comes to a crawl. When you wake in the dark and come home in the dark, you have no illusions about time. Every rustle of the leaves is like a giant clock striking the hour. Best get at it.
Now, I do like winter, so the gathering darkness and dropping temperatures is not followed by something I think is awful. In fact, winter is my second favorite month of the year, just behind autumn. The only reason winter falls behind autumn on my list is that it does not snow enough here in Lagos. Instead we get ice storms that are no fun. They can be pretty, but usually it means spending an hour chiseling my car door open, while trying not to fall and break a hip. I’m not a kid anymore.
In Denmark, they call this the cozy season or the start of the cozy season. They have a word for it, “hygge” which roughly means “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” They take all their fun indoors, where they will turn the lights down, sit by the fire and have conversation with friends and family. In Lagos, we include the sound of sirens and gunfire, but the concept is the same. I’m looking forward to the hygge.
For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!