How Autumn Comes (to Me)…

Last week, a spectacular autumn leaf fell right at my feet. Bright red and veined with summer green, the colors glowed and sparkled in the sun. I was immediately struck by the beauty of it: the intricate lacing of the veins, the veridian hue of the chlorophyll, and the darkening oxidation of dying cellulose. I tucked it into my sketchbook for posterity. It is dry now, and the colors have lost their sparkle and their intensity, but it still carries the memory of the spark that caught my eye. I am looking upon it now, and I suddenly see the parallel of this single fallen leaf and the grander milieu that is Autumn itself. All the seasonal progression of Fall is echoed in the microcosm of this single leaf.

I knew autumn was coming early in August. Though the temperatures were still exceedingly warm, I could sense it: a gradual change in the light, a shift in the shadows, and a leeching of color in the trees, the sky, and the waters. All this: a distinct sensation of the sun’s waning power.

Ever since my mid-teens living in Idaho, I could sense the light shift before the temperatures fell and the trees turned. It is always the same. First, the intensity weakens: even though the heat is strong, and I sweat and long for ice water to drink, the sun doesn’t seem quite so bright, and it takes a few seconds longer for my skin to feel the burn.

Then, the shadows lengthen and become bluer. Intangible fingers reach for the hidden spaces that a few weeks before could not touch. The shades scattered within the leafy boughs of the tallest trees grow darker and more mysterious. The sky begins to pale. At the height of summer, early in July, the heavens are a bright, clear, glorious cobalt blue, thick and saturated, soft like a velvet blanket. But come August, weeks after the Solstice, the velvet lifts, the blue grows thin, perhaps transparent. It pales to a weaker, whiter blue, like cerulean. The soft velvety thickness of the color is gone, replaced by a thin gauze: wispy and fluttering in the breeze–the blushing veil of Winter’s Bride.

It’s all so subtle, so delicate, and so slow, this progression of summer into fall, that I often wonder if I am imagining it, romanticizing the cycles of Life and Nature’s call. But when the forests turn to gold and scarlet, and the temperatures fall with the leaves, I know that somehow all I see is true, even if I do romanticize my perceptions with some spiritual awe.

I speak of this, because Pool suggested I write about some of the things I notice that others may not see. I have a hard time believing I am alone in my observations, but no one I know speaks of this. Perhaps it is to subtle and too gradual a change for anyone to pay much attention to, and perhaps also too commonplace to make note of. But I notice it every year, and every year I feel blessed to witness this soft glory, for the shifting of the seasons is probably the most beautiful thing on this Earth.

And that little red leaf with the summer-green veins, so bright when it fell and now dim with death, encapsulates everything I’ve seen around me within its fragile, delicate form.

How strange! An ocean wave, a dragonfly, a grapefruit, and an autumn leaf: how do I always seem to find life’s deepest meanings in the smallest of things?*

(*I will post hyperlinks to relevant passages once I have access to a computer. I do the vast majority of my posting via cellphones.)

13 thoughts on “How Autumn Comes (to Me)…

  1. a) can’t believe you wrote this post via cell phone

    b) this is GORGEOUS!! i’ve never paid so much attention to the change in the season (part of that may be because i live in texas and we don’t really have very distinct seasons). but reading your words, i had this sense of “oh yeah! she’s so right!!”

    c) perfect.

  2. Hey, I’ve noticed the change in the sky you write about, I’ve just never put it in such beautiful and eloquent words. Nicely done. 🙂

  3. Hey, I’ve noticed the change in the sky you write about, I’ve just never put it in such beautiful and eloquent words. Nicely done. 🙂

  4. You post via your cell phone? What sort of sorcery is this? Be ye a witch?

    I love it when the leaves change, though usually it’s during downpours so they end up a kind of slodgy muck on the sidewalk that I have to walk through ruining my cute shoes. Blurgh.

  5. Martha, Yup a cellphone! its a fancy phone–the Tmobile Sidekick II, with a wide screen, email and internet service, and a QWERTY keypad. I post via my email service on that fancy phone.

    Jen, Thanks!

    Kara, lol. Its not sorcery,its TECHNOLOGY. Read my words for Martha. Rainy, sloggy muck. Ew. You need to move out of Portland!

  6. Fascinating. Yes, I always notice the seasons and the weather – usually it’s a smell – the air smells different, and something indiscernible, a shift in the energy almost. Weird. But cool.


  7. Puss: a smell huh? Interesting..I sometimes smell a faint, sweet mustiness, usually after a rain, but I haven’t associated it with the shifting seasons. My nose is nearly as deaf as my ears.

    Dawn: Of course you may! I’m flattered.

  8. I am blown away by the beauty that comes across in your description. You write so well. I’m honored to have shared what that little leaf had you see.

  9. I am blown away by the beauty that comes across in your description. You write so well. I’m honored to have shared what that little leaf had you see.

  10. You find life’s deepest meanings because you are gifted spiritually and also have an artist’s sensibility.

    I loved this luscious piece of writing, and I also love Autumn. I have always noticed the subtle changes, although I couldn’t have expressed them so beautifully: the change in the light, the sky blue thinning, and the first bright leaves fluttering to the ground.

    This is what I miss most living in California, but I know where there is a single Maple tree that turns bright golden red. It is my microcosm of fall, and I visit it every year and take home souvenirs.

  11. This is beautifully written. I lso love the subtle changes of the seasons. On I hike yesterday, I couldn’t get over the rich smell of the leaves underfoot, and the dappled light through the trees. And fall colors are my favorite.

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