Fall colors in Cache Valley. Photo shared by USU Women’s Basketball on Twitter.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” – L.M. Montgomery.
What is it about Autumn? There seems a common delight, brought on by the shortening of days, flanked by cool, crisp mornings where dews fill the meadows awaiting the rising sun to chase them away, and evenings where dinner time slips peacefully into twilights of orange and ash grey as wood smoke hangs wistfully in the air.
Wherever you gaze, the world is bathed in a rich palette of color. Early rays of sunlight break across the mountains, turning the hillsides into a brilliant, ever-changing kaleidoscope. The fall of the leaf came early to the valley this year. Rarer now are those trees still enveloped in shades of red…
Yellow, orange, and green can still be seen in magnificent splendor, but where red has been, now mostly stand the leafless dark branches that signal the coming of winter. Perhaps as nature’s seminal color, red, in all its intensity, simply loses stamina and burns itself out…a hare amid the turtles of the forest. The occasional, remaining red tree is even more noticeable in contrast, reminding us that there’s a time and season to every purpose under the heavens.
As Autumn’s mottled world draws us in, it ushers in a change in our own. We may not perceive it as quickly as we do the landscape’s majestic transition, but we too respond to the rhythm of the seasons. Twice a year, the earth is re-balanced by the arrival of equinoxes. Once in Spring and again in Autumn. Equinoxes differ from solstices which mark the longest day of the year in summer, and the shortest day in winter.
A solstice occurs when time is stretched to its limits. An equinox brings the earth, and us, back to a place of equanimity. In Latin, equinox means ‘equal night’, when the length of day and night are the same…a return to equilibrium when the earth is at rest.
The long ascent from spring into the heat of summer is now past as the fall equinox marks the beginning of repose, a descent into the quiet, sleepy days of winter. It’s a peaceful, reflective time where the harvest is gathered, the hay is in the barn, and our thoughts turn to family, friends, and our own predilections.
It’s been said that Autumn is the year’s Sunday, a period for reflection, a sentimental time where we ponder the past. Our lives are made up of the things we’ve pick-up along the way. Some belong and some don’t and when a sentiment crosses our path, we instinctively know which is which. This is the gift of clarity that autumn’s pause brings, and is the power of its hallowed work…an annual cleansing of the mind as we too, regain our equilibrium. It is to the warm, periwinkle blue sky of autumn that we gaze with a far-off look of both wonderment and possibility.
Everyone has a time and season which belongs particularly to them. For many, those moments are found in Autumn, as summer’s triumphal postlude combines with winter’s plaintive prelude in peaceful harmony as we, who are listening, yield to the reverie of the season. It’s a familiar tune, joyful, yet strangely melancholic. One we sing side by side with nature in doleful nostalgia as we feel more acutely les’ feuilles mortes…our own fallen leaves. Try as you might, its spell is futile to resist, for all is made right in Autumn.
How wonderful it is to live in a world where there are Octobers.
Marc K. Ensign