As the seasons change, I often find it hard to remember the previous one — with the first drop in temperature and dew-frosted mornings too cold for short sleeves, warm weather becomes hard to remember. And when we get a “second summer,” like these last few days, I wonder how I could’ve possibly worn a sweater the day before (and quickly make plans for pickleball).
My favorite part about fall is, without a doubt, the leaves. This week, the trees on campus have erupted in full force, with stunning displays of fiery reds, mellow magentas, sun-tinged yellows and all the hues in between.
Just looking at the trees is such a gift. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking too fast to take it all in, to appreciate the variation in each tree, to notice how they turn from top to bottom and from the outside in.
My host families from Ecuador last summer have never seen the leaves fall or change colors — they don’t have four seasons there, being on the equator, and so couldn’t remember whether fall came before or after summer.
Perhaps my favorite autumnal delight comes after the leaves fall, with the oh-so-satisfying crunch some crisp leaves can make with a well-placed footstep. Tread carefully; some leaves have more crunch potential than others — a trained eye can usually spot the difference.
The weather changes during all four seasons, but fall feels the most like change embodied. Sure, other seasons fluctuate, but to me, autumn is defined by its indecisive, boundary-breaking weather with pumpkin-spice everything always catching me off guard.
And fallen leaves are gifts not just for sonorous stepping, but for catching a glimpse of the wind: when a gust of wind swirls and whirls the leaves into a flurry or sweeps them across the grass en masse, I think it’s the closest we get to seeing wind. The leaves provide a canvas, and the wind ripples through them.
Even though I love the leaves and their changing colors, they remind me that change is hard. I love my habits, routines, friends and college life, and it’s hard to think about that shifting. As much as I wish I were adventurous, adding new skills to my repertoire and making plans on a whim, I don’t. I’m a homebody at heart.
And I think that’s OK. There’s value in staying grounded, just as there’s value in spontaneity. I wish the leaves would change slower and stick around for longer, just as I sometimes wish life would go just a little slower to give us time to catch up. It often doesn’t, so we have to make time.
There is so much beauty in the world. And sometimes, it’s OK just to revel in that — a day warmer than expected, a good friend, the beauty of the human hand, a fluttering leaf.
I wrote a haiku last spring, and with the warmer weather the past few days, I think it applies:
It nudged past fifty
today, sun ablaze. In love
with the world, eyes raised.