Exposing the Layers of the Season

Thursday, October 23, 2008
In the spirit of cold, windy days, and early sunsets, I hereby propose the following exercise for all of you writers out there.

Let’s expose the layers of the season. Exposed skin to cold temperatures is not always recommended, but getting those brain cells warmed up on an auspicious autumn day of writing is. The idea of exposing the layers comes from an anthropological theory on “thick description,” that in order to fully start to comprehend and appreciate something, you have to peel back the layers one by one like that of an onion (Geertz 1973).

With that said, let us go into the current landscape and environmental surroundings of October to hopefully appreciate both the scene and see what material this simple exercise offers us writers. First, there is describing the air. Cool, crisp, smelling of cut farm fields, smelling of burning leaves, maybe of falling leaves, flowers, and achoo, pollen and ragweed.

Then, the next layer is what you see. Perhaps, it is the changing of the hues of the ocean waves (oh you lucky duck) as hurricane season starts to close on out for another year. Maybe, it’s the hues of the trees, which for me being in Pennsylvania is certainly true. It could be the scene of footballs being thrown by fathers, brothers, and sons on the weekends.

Next, what is it you feel? Is it cold? Are you reminiscent as the year nears an end? Are you enthused by the cooling temperatures? Are you confused with how it is dark so late in the morning and so early at night? I know that I am. Is it the feeling of dread because a child’s Halloween costume is yet to be found? Or, are you comfy and content, wrapped in hooded sweatshirts, flannel, or fleece?

Now, what do you tend to taste this time of year? I know some of the cohort has already blogged about candy and we all seem to have our preferences on that. Do you like your bobbing for apples or a glass of cider or eating warm pumpkin pie?

Lastly, I hear the geese on their annual migration, and the children and neighbors alternating between playing with and raking the leaves to the curb. I hear the intercom of the local school’s football field as the little league football players scrimmage, and the marching band is practicing for competitions.

With that said, I hear, see, feel, smell, and taste a great source of inspiration for us all this time of year. We have a lot to be grateful of, reflective upon, and lastly, influenced by in this changing season. Therefore, as the temperatures drop, energy levels fall, and before the post-sugar buzz stage of Halloween time lulls us towards sleep, it is essential that we get the brain exposing the layers of something. Today, for me, it was the time of year.

Geertz, Clifford.
1973 The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.


Lucia said...

Beautiful. I feel like I stepped into your day and it felt great! Warm pumpkin pie, hot cider, my cozy fleece. I hear Mercer's
'Autumn Leaves' in my head. So much to explore there. Thanks for exposing my brain to this!

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