NEW ORLEANS -- Most of you, used to big fat red and yellow leaves, and brisk winds smelling of apples, wouldn't recognize it. But here in the deep deep South in the dreamy mud of the riverbend at New Orleans, we do know it.
It's only a change in the light, a knifeblade-thin change from bright white to reddish.
It's only a sweatdrop's difference in dryness, enough to bring glad news to skin resigned to endless discomfort.
It's only a sudden spurt of a playful breeze, coming in on top of a river wavelet all the way from Cairo, Illinois.
It's also those signs devised by humans to signal the turning of the year: the corner drugstore full of nice-smelling new school supplies and swarms of kids in crisp uniforms chattering at the bus stop.
There is a surge of buoyancy, or maybe just a reflex, in the manner, if not the result, of somnolent bureaucrats in city offices.
Where the files fly
Elsewhere in the country, where the efficient Americans live, offices are crackling with energy. The phones are ringing, tans are admired, files fly. Here, we get only a degree of such admirable action.
Still, it's enough to know that autumn is here. Your cornucopia is our shadow of a smile. It is said that all of America's work is done after Labor Day until Thanksgiving. It's a wonder we are still such a productive country.
Other places must be much like New Orleans where we wallow in saints and feasts and festivals and are continually amazed by the steaming of the earth and the wild proliferation of life.
We work only at recognizing the awesomeness of the universe, which is a job, too.
People elsewhere produce. We exult, admire, celebrate, reproduce.
And now is such a time, though it's only a hint. In the subtle gradation of light which to the coarse senses would seem no more than a flicker, we find a plethora of stunning revelations.
Makes you want to dance. Or at least begin thinking of the autumn balls, and this year's masque.
Andrei Codrescu teaches writing at Louisiana State University.
Pub Date: 9/24/96