I’ve always had an affinity for Autumn, as an overt reminder that transformation can be graceful… comforting, even.
All year long, we experience adaptations as each day comes to a close: The brightness of light dulls, fading details into monochromatic gray. The ending of daytime deceives your senses slowly and imperceptibly and then all at once. Suddenly, you blink your eyes and the darkness jolts you to recognize its presence. Nightfall has cunningly crept in. Another day concluded.
The passage of day into night, though consistent in its routine, is too jarring for me to admire. I much prefer the slow, steady progression of Autumn. It allows time for my senses to process reality and make amends with impending change.
Transition periods are necessary for progress, but they also bring a disquietude similar to dusk; a sense that perhaps nothing is changing to bring you closer to the next phase. You are adjusting, but it seems to be happening so slowly that you cannot distinguish between where you once were and where you’re going.
This year especially, I used the leaves as my compass to gently assure me of my bearings, in spite of nightfall’s mundane consistency which betrays the notion of distinctness. I was no longer oblivious to the understated pastels of late August, apparent only to those craving a reminder that each day is in fact discernible from the previous.
Weeks passed and these hues became brighter. They were accompanied by brilliant reds, coinciding with my personal triumphs and alerting me of the tipping point towards novelty, finality, or possibly both.
I climbed a mountain for the last time this year, and met a nurse at the top. She was recently retired and I couldn’t help but admire the serendipity of crossing paths with someone on the opposite end of this journey, yet in the exact same place. She told me we had just missed peak foliage by a week, but I knew that the real beauty still lay ahead.
The leaves loosened from their attachments to the trees just as I was leaving my childhood home. I lay in my back yard and watched them pirouette towards the ground with a playfulness that reminded me to find joy in letting go.
I drove along mountain roads painted by a palette of burnt orange towards my new home. The fiery hues epitomized the incongruity of Autumn’s end: a final flash of warmth before Winter’s ruthless cold. The perfect kindling for my passion to ignite.
The last leaf falls, allowing the trees to bare their most honest, exposed selves, trusting that they will persevere regardless of how unrelenting this new season can be. In their vulnerability, the trees withstand and will always find the means to bloom again. In fact, it is in the days just before Spring, when they have endured for months that they are humbly prepared to achieve their fullest potential.
I, like the trees, am new and raw and exposed. Most days there is a biting wind of apprehension, a silent prayer that I could have remained safe in the steady striving of Autumn rather than face the unpredictability of now. But I also know that the seasons keep moving in succession, one after the next, and that this one is just as necessary as the last.
I blink and my eyes adjust. This time, it is not nightfall that saturates my vision, but rather, the blank canvas of myself.