Another Side of Autumn …
“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
There is a melancholy that accompanies autumn; not a profound weeping or heart-wrenching anguish. It is not a sadness or even a sense of regret. It is something more delicate and fine-spun, like a deep sigh of resignation, of accepting loss. For some, the colors of autumn are a reward, a resplendent triumph over the stifling heat of summer. But, that is not true of me.
The sky blazes with bronze oak leaves and shimmering red vine maples. Aspens are resplendent in yellow, the color of sweet creamery butter. Sweetgum trees tantalize with a brazen performance—their leaves turning from green to gold to red-purple in what seems a matter of moments.
On my garden path cyclamen raise their heads; gentle pink and white blooms awakening from their slumber, knowing that soon the flowers of summer will wither and fade, and only the cyclamen will remain.
The familiar summer kiss of dew on the morning grass has been replaced by a light mist. It shrouds our existence, giving the morning sunlight a soft, hazy glow. The afternoon sun is still warm, but much lower in the sky.
Autumn is not one distinct aroma, but an interweave of many scents that tell me the new season is approaching. Apples are ripe on the trees. Low-hanging fruit has already been snatched by hungry deer; they leave half-eaten fruit on the lawn. Fading foliage wilts and falls to the ground. A slightly sour, but not unpleasant aroma comes from the leaves composting, decaying, and returning back to the earth.
All of these sensory touches possess a subtle beauty, but my heart does not gladden as it does in April; for all of their splendor, these sights, sounds, and aromas point to a world that is dying. How is it that as leaves perish, they experience a re-birth, the Phoenix rising from the embers? This is not triumph—it is decay, a winding-down towards death.
And that is the melancholy, the subtext. This last burst of glory occurs only because the end is not far; the end comes to all living things, including you and me. In the colors of autumn, we see our own mortality, and a beauty mixed with sadness that is never far away.
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