“Change Is in the Air: The Magic of Fall” By Jennifer David Hesse

Did you ever see The Paper Chase? It’s a 1973 movie, based on the novel of the same name, about the stress and drama of a student’s first year at Harvard Law School. It’s a good film, with moments of humor and excitement. But, oddly enough, the part that has stayed with me over the years is an almost inconsequential scene toward the beginning. It’s a short segment that somehow manages to capture the feeling of fall.

This particular scene is like an old snapshot or snippet of memory—perhaps bigger in my mind than it was in reality. All I really recall is that the main character (played by Timothy Bottoms) and his love interest (played by Lindsay Wagner) are walking through a park, then picnicking by the water, on a gorgeous fall day. And that’s pretty much it.

I don’t know what they talked about or whether there was any cinematic music. It’s really just the imagery I remember: beautiful Lindsay with her hair loosely pulled back, wearing a turtleneck sweater and a flannel jacket; the sun shining on the water and grass; the dreamy, majestic fall foliage as the perfect New England backdrop. Somehow this little scene managed to convey the quintessential fall feeling—a feeling of newness and change. A feeling that’s slightly melancholy, but somehow exhilarating and lovely nonetheless.

And that’s the crux of it. For me, fall has always been about change and newness. In the movie, the newness was in the couple’s relationship, and in the student’s new challenges and lessons at school. In fact, every fall we say kids go “back to school,” but they’re not really going back. They’re going forward. They’re entering a new grade, new classes, new teachers and friends. They’re starting something different.

We’re all experiencing something different at this time of year. This is a period of transition. In the Northern Hemisphere, we’re moving from hot weather to cool, from lighter, longer days to more darkness. The landscape is changing before our eyes… and the transition is amazing. Just look at the trees. There’s an incredible alchemy happening in their very essence.

On the Wheel of the Year, Wiccans celebrate Mabon in late September. Known as the second harvest, it’s an early Thanksgiving for the earth’s bounty and a celebration of the last days of light as we circle toward the darkness once again. Celestially speaking, the Autumn Equinox is also the time when day and night become nearly equal—which makes it a fitting time to reflect on balance in our own lives.

Some people feel restless around this time of year. Like squirrels gathering nuts and birds flying south, they sense that change is in the air. They know the moment for action is upon us.

Do you want to make a change in your life? Try something new? Make a transition, large or small? Now might be a good time. Ride the wind with the leaves, let your dreams fly. Harness the magic of fall.

It’s that haunted time of year, when skeletons come out to play. But Edindale, Illinois, attorney Keli Milanni discovers it isn’t just restless spirits who walk the night…

After her recent promotion to junior partner, Keli is putting in overtime to juggle her professional career and private Wiccan spiritual practice. With Halloween fast approaching, her duties include appearing as a witch at a “haunted” barn and hand-holding a client who’s convinced her new house is really haunted. But it’s the disappearance of Josephine O’Malley that has Keli spooked.

The missing person is Keli’s aunt, an environmental activist and free spirit who always seemed to embody peace, love, and independence. When Josephine is found dead in the woods, Keli wonders if her aunt’s activities were as friendly as they seemed. As Keli comes to terms with her loss–while adjusting to having a live-in boyfriend and new demands at work–she must wield her one-of-a-kind magic to banish negative energy if she’s going to catch a killer this Samhain season. Because Keli isn’t ready to give up the ghost . . .

Praise for Yuletide Homicide

“A perfect read.” —Library Journal “Hesse easily balances murder and romance in this holiday tale that’s so cozy.” —Kirkus Reviews