Why do I like leaves? And it’s not just any leaves. It is the red, gold, and yellow leaves of autumn. The thin, fleshy skin with translucent veins. Something about the beauty in those details just fascinates me. I have always loved fall, but it almost seems I’ve loved it from a distance. The trees in our front and back yards did change colors, but that was about all the experience I got seeing leaves change colors. My favorite pictures for backgrounds are of nature and especially of beautiful photographs of trees in autumn. It seems so enchanting. That first crisp breath of change. Of the air of “elsewhere” coming to blow away the muggy, blistering heat.
Is there anything more magical? Some might argue that the beauty of spring or the snow of winter are more magical. Birth and death. If Spring is the time of birth and renewal, of youth and beauty, and Summer is adolescence and life and action, and Winter is sleep and cold and death or hibernation; then Autumn must be the time of maturity; of knowledge, of knowing that the year and time of life is drawing to a close, and we must acknowledge what precious little time we have left.
Autumn is the time of harvest, of plenty, of nutrition and health. Such richness, such warmth of color. Autumn is the only season where the trees make a sound. In spring and summer, it is animals and insects; in winter, it is ice, snow, and wind. Autumn is the season of the trees. The trees shed their leaves and the bittersweet music of crunching foliage itself is the sound of presence, of being in the moment. Maybe fall is magical for me because I have never had to really experience the harshness of winter. South Texas is not the land of seasons.
Perhaps it is my distance from the true experience of fall that makes it so enchanting. I’ve never had to rake the yard covered in fallen leaves. I’ve never had the misfortune of stepping on hidden dog poo. Still, the romantic in me refuses to surrender to the realist. See? Autumn brings out the poet in me. Warm peppermint mochas and an evening at Barnes and Noble surrounded by books and the smell of coffee. Burning mesquite wood scenting the breeze from the few people with fireplaces taking one of the few opportunities we get to use them. The lightness of foreign air that carries the smell of other places and people before it, pushing away the heavy, dreary, weighted heat and humidity. Crunching of leaves under leather boots. Frisky dogs running and jumping across the yard. Your life’s breath manifesting and then disappearing before your eyes. Cinnamon, pumpkin, and chocolate on your tongue and in the air. The fresh tingle across your face as the chill of the wind whips past.
I never really feel at home until it’s fall. I feel like a stranger in a strange land living in this hot, tepid corner of the world. The first cold fronts that migrate all the way from Canada and finally, I feel like myself. Like all is right with the world and this is how it should be. I should feel this fresh and alive and at home all the time. If only I could carry around a jar of autumn air with me all year round, and it would never run out. When I need to feel refreshed and energized, I could just open it up and take a deep breath.
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” – George Eliot