What base disappointment. Let us make explicit the crux of the season’s beauty: the color of burnt orange. It predominates. Yes, lighter yellows and darker reds exist- as do various shades of cerise and brown- but the general impression, when you relax your tired eyes and let the chromatic spectra blend to a single hue, is the melancholic glow, forlorn and faded, of ocherous autumn.
In the preponderance of temperate climates, it’s possible to enjoy the season unhindered by local surroundings. Not so in Ohio’s dumping ground, where I find myself stationed for the purposes of baseball. Here, all year round, the color predominates. Why? Because the city is overwhelmed by rust. Flaky, sharp, decayed, dangerous rust. Everywhere you look, Cleveland is disintegrating. The industrial infrastructure, which, one assumes, once commanded some grudging respect among superior urban neighbors east and west, now falters into rot. Additionally, grime sloughs itself along a sludgy path describing each twist and turn of the conurbial streets and avenues. A dread mixture of silt, mud, polluted water, and defecation, it too takes on the pigmented semblance of rust.
So, when fall emerges, and leaves on those remaining trees deliquesce into their natural version of Cleveland’s russet complexion, it seems that one is mocking the other. Or, more accurately, that one pities from on high while one sneers within its downtrodden, bitter environment.
Autumn is a time to delight in sadness, to be draped in the trappings of weary wisdom and old age, to look forward with gentle reservation toward the cold fate awaiting us all.
Instead, I am in Cleveland, and I am miserable.