In Oregon, the year’s most reliably pleasant weather occurs during Indian Summer. Today, on the eve of my 70th birthday, I strolled along the waterfront of the Columbia. The prevailing westerlies have lost their enthusiasm. This morning, the river laid flat. Paddle boarders cruised the smooth surface under a cloudless blue sky.
Elsewhere, the convergence of seasons tremble with change. Hood River’s harvest of pears and apples winds down with the decline of summer. Farm workers stack ladders onto trailers, returning them to a barn for storage. Forklifts load the last bins of fruit onto flatbed trucks and air horns toot as they head out for the packing houses.
The foliage of the orchard trees is still green. But other varieties, the maples, the oaks, and the poplars, hint at colors to come. Soon, frost will tip summer into autumn. Then, county roads and forest trails will display the bright colors of nature’s palette in the glamorous light of the descending sun.
The rhythm of the season resonates with me. I am, after all, a fall child. This year, my recovery from summer’s bout with pneumonia frames my appreciation of the natural world. Claustrophobia, combined with panic attacks, unsettled me. Did I come close to the realm of dying? Yes, I think it’s fair to say that I was in the neighborhood.
I am blasé about it now, just two months removed from the fright of being unable to breathe. Observing the natural world assists with adapting to how fragile life can be and how brief is our time under the wondrous canopy of consciousness. My physiological immune system may be compromised by cancer, but my psychic immunity responded well to the salve of time. Eventually, I relaxed and compartmentalized the fears.
Looking ahead, I meet with my oncologist next month. At that time, we will discuss renewing treatment for my cancer. I currently remain on probation due to the weakness caused by the pneumonia debacle. My health feels more stable, day by day. But multiple myeloma does not rest. I expect to resume the program interrupted by illness.