Amblin' Alameda: Fall

Amblin' Alameda: Fall

Morton Chalfy

The first official day of fall has come and it arrived in usual Bay Area fashion. The penultimate day of summer was as it should be, hot and sunny and perfectly in keeping with the season. The last day of summer was a microcosm of the autumn to come: cool, rainy, very rainy, sunny and cooler. All the characteristics of an Alameda autumn condensed into one changeable day.

So much for the official onset of the season, but we all know that fall began several weeks ago with the opening of the football seasons, college and pro, and the start of the school year. The Earth may spin upon its axis, but the world of money, sport, advertising and the TV timetable waits for no natural event.

Even the way we measure the time and season differs from the ancient ways. We have satellite observations and atomic clocks and the view from space to pinpoint the exact moments of our solstices and equinoxes, while the ancients had Stonehenge and other pyramids to mark the passage of the planet from one phase to another.

The old ways required that we be up before the dawn to mark the passage of the sun, that we feel the nip of the chill air and the caress of the sun's first rays, that we hear the songs of the birds welcoming the new day and absorb the dampness of the dew through our handmade shoes. The rhythm and “feel” of the natural world was woven into our lives and our cultures and the seasonal changes were marked and celebrated with feasting, song and dance.

Today they're marked by tailgate parties before kick-off, potlucks at the PTAs and a few shots of the night sky on the evening news. We live indoor lives now, for the most part, and our sense of the natural world has been dulled by buildings, comfort, plentiful food and electronic distractions. We can't go home again in the sense of living in caves and dancing around the fire pit, but we can occasionally reconnect with the natural world by getting out in it more often and appreciating its ongoing effects on our lives.

Walking along Shoreline in a slight drizzle, taking note of the bird life along the shore and letting the mist obscure San Francisco in the distance, one can almost feel the tug of nature on the blood in one's veins. Hail to thee oh Solstice. Tonight we shall dance.