In the fall in Jackson Hole the frost swipes the leaves from the trees like a mad painter stripping wet paint from his canvas. But this fall the frost had touched only lightly, and the aspens and the cottonwoods had turned translucent and yellow. The first light stroked the cornices of the Gable Peaks, and the granite rims turned pink, and the snow at the top was also pink. The leaves of the chokecherries turned the color of tree-ripened peaches, and the mountain ash was red with its clusters of seeds as shiny as red porcelain peas, and the wild geese flew across a Mediterranean sky proclaiming their profound joy, and the early light was aglow on Jenny’s face and on her hair.
“Soon the leaves will fall down,” I said. “It makes me sad.
“The leaves have no regret,” she said. “It’s only change, and change is beautiful.”
Then it came blurting out: “Jenny, there must be something wrong with you.”
“Of course there’s nothing wrong with me,” she replied still gazing into the early morning light. The light was light yellow.
“Then why would such a woman as you fall in love with the likes of me? You’ll have to admit, there must be something wrong.”
She turned to study me. “Argus, are you feeling bad?”
I tried to explain to her that it was as if she were blind, and being blind had fallen in love with a person who people with eyes would have found unattractive to the extreme.
“You can’t see yourself, Argus. You can’t see your soul and you can’t see your beauty.”
“You can’t see how crazy things are in here,” I said. “It’s like the lions are loose inside the circus tent and the people are panicked and running every which way trying to get out.”
“You’re very brave to live in such a place, Argus.”
“No,” I said. “I am the world’s greatest coward. And I think I am insane and…”
“Argus,” Jenny said putting her arms around me and looking up into my eyes—she didn’t have to look up very far—”that is what I love about you. You are who you are and…”
“Maybe I’m crazy, Jenny,” I said. “Maybe that’s the truth.”
“No, Argus. You’re not crazy. It’s crazy out there. Not knowing what’s real is real.”
“My God!” I cried. “That’s really crazy!”
“Besides, you’re an animal,” she said bearing her teeth and letting out a growl and laughing, and then she grabbed me in ways and in places, and we were like mating tigers, growling and wrestling and screaming, and after that when we lay together in each other’s arms she said, “I love you for many, many deep reasons,” and I felt clear about it for the moment, and I felt beautiful.
That is what falling in love is about, I thought. It’s when the other shows you your own beauty in such a way that you can, for that magical instant, see it, and you can feel love for yourself.