Fall in New York City can be a beautiful, tricky river to paddle. For example, Saturday morning I woke up at 6am in pitch blackness (no sun rising, not yet), and walked outside wrapped in numerous coats and sweatshirts. It was 39 degrees. Later that day, as residents of Brooklyn capered about wearing capes and carrying light sabers—carrying babies dressed up like bumble bees and tiny elves—the temperature rose to a sweatshirt-shedding 60 some odd degrees. Then, the very next day, Sunday, we had a high of 75, followed by a God-fear-inducing summerish thunder storm.
The sky turned green. The warm, ill- fitting late-October wind blew strong, and an apocalyptic cloud rolled across the sky like an incoming spaceship.
Side note, but did you know that sometimes it rains frogs?
This, apparently, is a real thing.
My wife and I run a community garden here in Brooklyn, and earlier today, a buddy of mine found a frog in a seemingly inaccessible spot—trapped in the mesh filter of a rain barrel at the end of a drain spout. The only way the frog could have gotten there was from the roof of the building next to the garden.
(Here’s the little bugger after they freed him from his mesh hammock-prison)
"Well," said my wife, "of course it could have come from the sky. You know, landed on the roof and then gotten flushed down into the barrel."
"What? Bullshit. It can’t rain frogs."
She shot me one of those looks wherein I immediately realize I must be wrong.
"No, seriously," I stammered, "it doesn't rain frogs. What kind of mumbo jumbo are...you...?"
She still fixed me with that stare, one eyebrow raised.
Finally, she simply shrugged, said, "Look it up."
I took out my phone, flipped around.
"Well, I’ll be damned."
They say the most likely explanation for frog-rains is that the poor, dastardly creatures get picked up by "tornadic waterspouts" (read: tear jerker rom-coms) and are carried for miles until they fall back to earth in a torrent of water.
Imagine being a frog. Just minding your damn business, when suddenly you’re picked up by the strong, ice cold hand of mother nature, flung into the heavens, and then catapulted back down to earth—most likely to meet your death in a smush of red splatterings upon the cement.
It all seems a bit unjust.
These past few months—election cycle horror, seemingly too-short summer break after a disastrous NBA Finals, the Kevin Durant signing—have left me feeling like a frog floating the crisp air-holes of the sky, waiting for the inevitable plunge. The ground seems soft from far away, and hard as you hurtle towards it. In the next few weeks, we’ll find out who will lead this nation, we’ll find out if the Warriors can smooth out the kinks in their flow, and we’ll find out who the Man in Black really is.
We’ll sing songs of Autumn, and we’ll watch as the last of the leaves fall. We’ll drink our drinks, and link arms against the coming winter darkness. Soon, all that’ll be left will be forgotten New Year’s resolutions and semi-meaningful, late February League Pass games on Wednesday nights.
Autumn is a time for self reflection. A time to grab your loved ones and hold them close. The seasons don’t change quite as drastically out there in my beloved Bay Area, but back here in the east, you can easily fall prey to the alluring nostalgia of the shifting winds. Fires are burning just around the corner. Cider donuts are being baked in a thousand ovens. Pumpkins stand alone in fields, waiting to be carved. Basketball is back. Football is falling into shape and falling out of relevance.
Frogs are falling from the sky.
Sometimes, it’s good to step back and chronicle the cycles. Even if none of the answers make sense, or even if you forgot the original question.
As we move forward, I can’t stop listening to "00000 Million," by Bon Iver.
There’s a line in the first chorus that grabs me by the collar and slaps me across the face.
I worried bout rain
And I worried bout lightning
But I watched them off
To the light of the morning
Marking the slope
Slung low in the highlands
Where the days have no numbers
If it's harmed me, it's harmed me, it'll harm me, I let it in
"I let it in." That’s the only way forward.
Welcome Fall, welcome basketball. Welcome change and welcome the end of a strange few months.
Be good to one another. It’s a tough time out there for frogs and humans alike.