Fall is my one of favorite times of the year. I love to gaze out my window and watch the burnished leaves drift from weakened branches, leaving trees naked beneath the moonlight. It is the time when mornings languish in darkness, ignited by the sallow light of street lamps cutting through a haunting mist. Cars glitter with the crumbs of a first frost and crisp mornings give way to pastel afternoons capped with puffy rain-swollen clouds. In the evening, the fog rolls in off the sea and dissipates into clear nights where stars peek through the wispy remains of cloud cover. It is the turning of the year, the time to surrender one less hour of daylight and prepare for the inevitable initiation into winter. It is a time of conflicted beauty, for while I enjoy the vivid transformation from fall to winter, it is the season that stimulates the woeful vigour of my RA.
RA has haunted me for almost six years, and unlike those privileged creatures that sleep through the darkness of this season, RA does not hibernate – it is the ominous spectre that thrives in the damp chill of autumn and winter, pestering my joints with its invasive presence. In the morning, the crisp air crackles beyond the safeguard of my warm blankets and my eyes are swollen shut with fatigue. The thin reed of daylight filters through the delicate skin of my eyelids, urging me to get up, but I am weighed down by viscous limbs drooping under an invisible weight, like the frail leaves crushed under sodden dampness. I can hear the faint buzz of a chainsaw shrieking in the distance, singing the predictable song of another ghostly season. My vitality shrinks with the fading hours of daylight, and I hoard my energy to help me through the short clammy days that weigh me down in their chill gloom.
And yet, even in the midst of our darkest season, I am reminded that there is still a brightness to be found in the turning of the year – intermittent moments when the darkness is pierced by the sun burning through the afternoon clouds. Its golden imprint streams through the beaded condensation of my windows, warming my body, lulling the ghost of RA into a temporary slumber and filling me with hope. During my evening walks, I am guided by the flickering glow of jack-o-lanterns and the spicy scent of pumpkin mingled with charred firewood. I am enticed by phantom nights lit by the pastel glow of street lamps, and as I stroll by houses stringed with cobwebs, I can’t help but imagine the ghosts of inflammation being torn from my body and put to rest beneath the mock headstones that litter the yards for All Hallows Eve.
I am encouraged by the fissures of light that charge the haunting transformation of a new season. In these moments I am reminded that I can still be inspired by small miracles to get me through the darkest part of the season. The turning of autumn to winter is a time to reflect on how far I have come, to rest and recharge. In the glow of my jack-o-lantern, I am reminded that is it only a short period before the next transformation, and I can choose to ignite my own light in the darkness.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy All Hallows Eve – may you find the light of hope and wellness in the transformation of a new season.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.