Why is Autumn so special?
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower” — Albert Camus
It is a beautiful time of the year. It is also a time of transition, both in the external world and in the world within.
Outside in the woods behind the house, trees have sensed the shrinking hours of daylight, felt the drop in the temperature, and on occasions, shivered in the chill of mornings. From their experience, or perhaps from instincts now carried in their genes, they know it is time to get ready for the winter that will be here soon.
And within, spurred by changes that are happening outside, autumn stirs a rainbow of emotions — a sense of peace, connectedness, sadness, melancholy, nostalgia.
Over a span of a week, leaves go through a metamorphosis and suddenly adorn themselves in different shades of color — red, orange, yellow, purple, gold…
On some days in the background of clear crisp blue sky (that only autumn days have), their colors stand out. Looking at them it seems like they are dancing in the breeze at a slower pace and are holding a special show.
It is time to hibernate the garden and clear the spots where perennials grew all through the summer having their own dazzling display of colors. But now, it is also time for them to also bid adieu.
It is also time to pick up the last red tomatoes hanging from the vines before they shrivel up after a night of hard freeze, after which, looking sad, they ask “did you forget about us.”
It is a reminder of the winter ahead. It is a reminder that by 5 pm the sun will be below the horizon and by 6 pm it will be dark. And while it would be cold outside, I would be safe wrapped in the cocoon and safety of home. Perhaps, I would be sitting in front of the warm glow of the fireplace with a glass of wine while shadows dance on the walls.
In going from summer to winter, the meaning and comfort of home changes in subtle ways.
It is a time when reminders of impermanence are all around. Impermanence is in the display of fallen leaves covering the ground, in the chill of the air, in the smell of burning wood from the smoke drifting from a chimney. It is in the honk of a flock of geese heading south (I would be wishing to do the same come January).
With impermanence abashedly at display, autumn is also the time of realization of my mortality and a gentle nudge that I am in the autumn of my life.
It is a time to remember that years slowly, but inadvertently, are passing away. With each passing year, that realization of mortality has an increasing sharpness and depth to it. And yet, the same realization is also a source of inner peace.
It is time for vague nostalgic emotions to knock on the door and say hello. Perhaps they come to ask how the spring and summer were, and if I would like to take a break and go back to places that in my mind’s eye are gentle, peaceful, but also, are filled with a soft ache of melancholy knowing that someday it all ends.
With its arrival, I am reminded that next year trees will once again wear colors, once more leaves will do their slow dance in the background of flawless blue sky, but bound by my finiteness, I may, or may not be around to appreciate.
Although there are no guarantees, for now, come next year I still intend to see it all though.
It is time to relish the anticipation of slipping under the warmth quilts and feeling of being back in the safety of mother’s womb and each morning when climbing out of the bed, have the feeling of being born again.
It is indeed a special time of the year.