The Writes Of Autumn


Sun Dial

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
— Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks

Now that the new school year has started, reading — both books and blogs — is one of those joys that get pushed aside.  But I’ve decided to make the effort.  That’s why I picked up Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary, a short book that tackles a very big subject: the latter years of the Blessed Mother.

In between her recollections of her actions during her Son’s life, there was one passage that jumped from the page, a paragraph that captured me at this change of seasons.

“I do not often leave the house.  I am careful and watchful; now that the days are shorter and the nights are cold, when I look out the windows I have begun to notice something that surprises me and holds me.  There is a richness in the light.  It is as if, in becoming scarce, in knowing that it has less time to spread its gold over where we are, it lets loose something more intense, something that is filled with shivering clarity.”

Why was Mary staying in the house?  Why was light so important to her?  Could it be that Mary suffered from Seasonal Affect Disorder, also known as SAD?  I know I do.  When the sun goes down, my SAD goes up.

"I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion." -- Henry David Thoreau

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Autumn has only begun, but now that Joe and I have closed the pool, I already find myself wanting to hibernate, to lament the loss of daylight — and there is still so much to do in the garden.  Leaves holding on to branches have yet to fall and be raked.  Beds filled with end-of-summer blooms need to be cleaned.  And let’s not overlook the tender tropicals that need to be dug and tucked away for the winter.

All this SAD-ness from someone who enjoys many of fall’s offerings: oversized sweaters and bejeweled leaves and crispy air.  But by the time I return home from work, with the shadows made quite long by a rapidly setting sun, I find that I do not want to venture outside.   I want to curl up with a blanket and a book and wait patiently for spring.

"In autumn, don't go to jewelers to see gold; go to the parks!" -- Mehmet Murat ildan

“In autumn, don’t go to jewelers to see gold; go to the parks!”
— Mehmet Murat ildan

At about this same time, I visited my friend Carla’s blog, The Heartbeat Girl, a wonderful site that is honest, observant, and humorous — written through the eyes of a true Jersey Girl.  In a recent post, she wrote of fall, offering a few suggestions on how to make living a part of the dying season.  Although each of her ideas were a reminder to run outside and celebrate the changes, her number 5 has stayed with me:

“Be blue.  I am not a climatologist, so I’m unaware of any scientific background to what I’m about to say: The fall sky is not the same sky you see in spring or summer.  Step outside and take it in, be in it . . .”

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." -- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
— L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

And so I find myself looking upward and wondering: Could blue be the antidote for the blues?

My friend was correct in her number 5.  There is no other blue like autumn blue.   In fact, there is also no other red like autumn red, no other gold like autumn gold — no other anything like autumn anything.

Where does all this take me?  To my sadness that summer is gone, to my finding autumn joy, to my celebration of rest for the weary garden and gardener, and to my complete gratitude that others have taken the time to put to paper (or textbox) such beautiful heartfelt words.

"Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower."  -- Albert Camus

“Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.”
— Albert Camus

With all this talk of authors and writing, now seems like the perfect time to announce the winner of The Victorian Garden giveaway.  As in the past, I created an Excel spreadsheet with the names of the entrants.  This gave me a range, which I then inputted at Random.org, where a number in that range was selected  . . . well, randomly.

The winner is:

Number 10 on my spreadsheet, also known as Debra, who also happens to be the woman behind the stress-relieving blog Breathe Lighter.  Congratulations!  I will be in touch via email to get your mailing address.

"October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup.  October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins.  O autumn!  O teakettle!  O grace!"  -- Rainbow Rowell, Attachments

“October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup.
October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins.
O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!”
— Rainbow Rowell, Attachments

27 thoughts on “The Writes Of Autumn

  1. I totally agree, the sky is a different intense blue. I have taken pictures of trees, skies and my roof. Ha. It’s the best way for me to capture that special color.

  2. GREAT POST. So many people love fall. I have different feelings. The days get shorter, leaves start falling, some plants start looking weird because of the cooler temps. Never enough time now. And with fall comes the “F” word, then “W” and “S”. I refuse to say those words until it happens. I don’t want to be calling them.

    • Hi. I completely agree with the alphabet soup that’s coming our way. If it were up to me, I think I would have fall head right back into spring. I know winter has a purpose — I just don’t think I’m included in it. 🙂

  3. A great post! I am definately a person who likes routines. This includes watching others – the farmers plowing their fields to prepare for planting (happening now in south Florida), the quality of light, the acorns on our oaks, the return of warblers. I do remember the slightly melancholy feelings I had in the fall when I lived in the midwest. I also remember the cool, bright sunny days tinged with the aromas of freshly raked leaves, baking apples and going to a college football game with my father. I used to collect pregnant preying mantis’ and place them in a terrarium where they would lay their egg cases. I also collected caterpillars and watched them pupate. Fall is a time for preparing for the winter – last minute gardening for us ‘two-leggeds’ and the ending of a stage of life for others.

    • Hello Mary. What beautiful memories of falls gone by. Like you, I enjoy traditions and noticing the subtle changes that happen as the seasons roll by. I would like to not notice some — like the smell of snow on its way — but everything must have its moment.

  4. As an October baby, I’ve always had an affinity for the fall. My favorite colors are fall colors. My house is painted in fall colors. Fall makes me want to bake and make soup. There’s something about the coolness of the air which gets deep down into my lungs and cleans them out. I don’t know what it is, but I love it as much as I love spring. I’m a Libra, and maybe it’s that balance I crave. Summer and winter are extremes. Fall and spring are just right.

    • Hi Deb. It’s funny that you mentioned blue. I was working in the garden yesterday and I looked up, and the color of sky was breathtaking. It was a great reason to pause and reflect — all because of blue.

  5. I also love the crisp, vibrant colours of autumn and the special light we get, makes the photos look so much better! Autumn is long here in London, and winter thankfully short most years, except for last year, it lasted for ages – hopefully this winter will be back to normal. I except daffodils and crocuses in early February.

    • Hi Helene. There are so many enjoyable qualities to autumn — kind of makes the shorter days more bearable. I hope your coming winter is more like normal for you. Be well!

  6. Hey Kevin, I love fall (not as much as spring though) but also have the urge to curl up with a blanket when the days become shorter. I make sure to keep up my walking routine through the winter, but it must be outside rather than on the treadmill in order to keep the blues away. I enjoyed your post. All the best to you! 🙂

  7. Ah, autumn. I understand your response to the season considered the killer of time outdoors. Try to see it another way, Kevin (that is, try to see it my way): It’s the flip side of spring, with colors not round and soft like spring’s but hard-edged and sharp-angled – like the autumn light.

    I think of fall as bracing, like the nights that increasingly chill, making that warm bed even more welcome, comforting.

  8. Love that slow descent from Autumn into Winter. The descent from days still spent working outdoors to more time indoors…cooking…reading…hibernating. Bring it on!

  9. Michael and I can’t bring ourselves to close the pool, (lol) but it must be done. It’s like “giving in”. Although we can’t hold the cool seasons back, it’s always sad to see summer fade away. Be well.

    • Hey Mario! I feel your pain — but we took the plunge (so to speak) and covered our pool. It just reaches a point when keeping it clean and leaf-free becomes a full-time job. Time to celebrate autumn and take a long winter’s nap. 🙂

  10. I’ve always experienced the same, only in the warm months, when the heat and humidity gang up on me and force me to hibernate indoors with the ac (because they literally make me sick and flare my migraines and arthritis). I am stuck indoors more during the warm & humid months than at any other time of year and it’s very hard. Autumn brings me such pure joy and happiness, although I recently realized I was appreciating it only in October, my favorite month, instead of all season long and getting horribly depressed once Halloween came & went! I have vowed this year to appreciate Autumn in some way every day of it this year, through Thanksgiving, even into December if I can. Hopefully there will be snow this Winter because a cold Winter without snow is also very depressing for me! (I adore snow! But, no extremes, we’ve had quite enough weather extremes these last two years lol). You are not alone in your feelings!

    • Hi Jo. It’s horrible when health gets in the way, but I can completely understand why the cooler temps and autumn colors are important to you. I hope you can find joy for as long as you can this fall — and when it comes to winter. . . I am not a fan of snow, but I would rather see snow than have nothing but browns and grays for months on end. Happy Autumn!

  11. Pingback: A Gardening Life Remembered | Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

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