It seems only yesterday that I was on the cusp of Thanksgiving, wondering how summer had become but a memory. Now the winter solstice is here, with Christmas and a New Year looming.
The obvious question is this: where did Autumn go?
At the back of my mind is something more elemental.
How do I slow down the passage of time?
Stopping time seemed an impossible task. So I went in search of Lady Autumn instead. Alas, she eluded me. Then I heard a rustling of grass behind a grove of trees.
“Pssst! Over here!”
Then what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a curious creature with wiggling ears. A wily old gnome – he sure wasn’t St. Nick! – dressed all in red, and carrying a stick.
“More time, you say! I know just the thing. The Tincture of Time! One drop a day – ONE DROP! – will give you all the time you might want. The tincture is crafted from an extract of the fang-fluid of the mighty dragon Nox. He makes it himself. Nox, all praise be to his name, is fearsome and frightful. You will need courage and cunning to go before him in his watery den. He does not suffer fools gladly.
“He won’t just give the tincture away for free, you know.”
With those words, the wizened gnome trudged off, his bright coat slowly disappearing in the tunnel of trees.
I followed, and soon found myself at the shore of a large lake. A boat rested at the water’s edge. I looked at it dubiously for a moment, then shrugged. What could go wrong?
The day was bright but the water cold as I stepped into the kayak and paddled away.
After a long journey, I entered a hidden cove. Suddenly the air shimmered, and all became distorted, disorienting. Topsy-turvy.
Bubbles floated to the surface. Something stirred…
“Why have you disturbed my lair?” he roared.
“If… if you please, sir, a… a gnome told me that you could give me the Tincture of Time. He said it was a potion to slow the passage of time, to add minutes to the hour and hours to the day and days to the seasons, and, and…”
The dragon collapsed in a spasm of laughter. It was a long time before he could speak.
“The Tincture of Time! Hahaha! To give you MORE time! Heehee!” More laughter ensued as I pondered the incongruity of a dragon as mighty as Nox producing a laugh as dainty as “heehee”. He wasn’t scary at all. Truth be told, he was kind of cute.
Then he spoke again.
“My child, there is no such thing as the Tincture of Time! You cannot slow the passage of the days. That old gnome pulled a fast one on you!”
“Nasty little man,” I muttered under my breath.
“Tell me, child, what do you seek?
“I am looking for Her Ladyship, Autumn.”
“Haven’t you found her yet? She’s hard to miss. What have you done with your time?”
“Um… well, Mr. Nox, sir, I edit an e-bulletin, and study bats, and work in my garden, and the house needs cleaning, and there’s so much junk to sort through, and then there’s my blog, oh my poor forgotten blog…”
“ENOUGH!” roared the dragon. “You’re making me dizzy. Take this.”
Nox handed me a bottle. An empty bottle.
“But it’s empty,” I said.
“It is empty, now. Humor me. Take the top off and inhale deeply a few times.”
I did, and suddenly there was a mighty WOOOOOOSH, and a purplish mist swirled in the bottle.
“These are your preoccupations – preoccupations are always purple – these are your regrets of the past and the worries for the future. With preoccupations set aside, your mind is free to be filled with the wonders of the present.
“You have been too busy being busy to stop and smell the roses. You don’t need more time, child, you simply need to set aside the worry of not-enough-time and simply Be in the here-and-now.
“The here-and-now is everything there is. All else is illusion. Take another look, and see if Lady Autumn hasn’t been here all the time.”
Slowly I looked around and saw…
Autumn unfolding all around me. She WAS there, perched above the rocks of the dragon’s den.
I saw her handiwork along the lake shore,
And in woods of orange and rust.
Now I saw everything. The pea green horse-apples on the ground.
Leaves that dangled from branches like crimson feathers on a Lakota lance.
I looked, and saw where Lady Autumn’s brush painted the edges of a swift creek.
I drank in her reflections near a small cascade.
And soaked up the wonder of a single leaf.
“You see, my child, you have plenty of time. You need only step outside and LOOK. Step outside and Be in the here-and-now. Attention must be paid!
“Go now. The mighty dragon Nox has spoken. Her Ladyship awaits you. Send her my regards.”
And so, I learned to make time in my busyness for the turning of the seasons. I learned that I had not missed Lady Autumn at all, or the Summer Queen in her turn. I learned that I mustn’t fret about not-enough-time, but I must make the most of the here-and-now and just Be in the moment.
As for the mighty Dragon Nox, when last I saw him, he was…
Kim, that is charming!!!!!