22. Autumn

People talk about how much they love the autumn season, with its pumpkins and colored leaves and frosty mornings. I stare at them with horrified incredulity. Everything dies in autumn. The trees lose their beautiful leaves and become skeletons. The temperature plunges from pleasantly warm to icy cold. There are many things I’ll never understand in this life—the precise theological nature of the Trinity, the popularity of the Twilight novels, trigonometry—and why people like autumn is one of them.

When I first came to Indiana, I knew autumn was coming. I expected the leaves to turn bright colors and fall from the trees. What I didn’t expect was for all green to vanish, leaving behind murky browns and grays.

“I love autumn,” said someone during my first semester of college.

It seemed like a good time to share my observations about the season. “Everything is dying,” I pointed out.

“That’s normal.”

“You clearly don’t understand,” I replied, speaking very slowly. “Everything is dying. The grass and the trees. Dying. There’s frost every morning. It’s really, really cold. And people put up hideous Halloween decorations.”

“It’s autumn, Adam. It happens every year.”

“And you like autumn?”

He nodded, and I was left to shake my head and wonder.

Autumn isn’t all bad. It’s fun to see carved pumpkins on front porches. The sudden ubiquity of pumpkin pie is wonderful. Autumn is the season of Thanksgiving, and the Christmas season draws steadily nearer. I’m willing to concede that autumn has its blessings. I just don’t like the cold, or the tawdry Halloween decorations, or the tendency of beautiful green things to die.

Are you an autumn person? If so, maybe you can bring me a little closer to unraveling the inexplicable mystery of why people actually like the autumn season.

9 thoughts on “22. Autumn

  1. Haha! I understand why it could be puzzling for someone not raised here, but I am also one of the lovers of autumn. By the time October comes around, I’m usually rather tired of short sleeves and hot weather. I love being able to once again feel the coziness of sweatshirts and blankets. Autumn also means the start of the holiday season (although I also dislike Halloween decorations and consider them rather ugly), which is filled with family, spicy smells, and a little bit of, for lack of a better word, magic as Christmas draws ever nigh. Some things may die or go into hibernation, but they’ll be back, and I appreciate them all the more after a few months absence. The trees lose their leaves, but in such explosions of color that it only serves to show a little bit more of God’s imagination in causing even that necessity to occur magnificently.

  2. I’m definitely one of those people you stare at with horrified incredulity. Fall is my favorite season.
    (in the South, we call it Fall – no need to get fancy with pretentious words like “Autumn”). I don’t feel like things die in the Fall. They go into hibernation for a well-deserved rest. Like when a caterpillar does its cocoon thing. They’ll be back soon in all their green and blooming glory. And while maybe we don’t get to enjoy the green things for a short time, we’re given other Fall awesomeness in exchange, like football, crockpot soups, cashmere and ice skating.
    Invest in a good scarf and a thick pair of boots and embrace Fall! Or head down to Louisiana where we really don’t have seasons at all. Just humidity…and lots of it.

  3. Well, I guess autumn does smell nice, and crock pot soups are tasty, and I’m all for mosquitoes being dead, and the explosion of colors in the trees is beautiful. But I’m still puzzled. Slightly less puzzled, but puzzled.

  4. LOL, that’s a good point! 😀 But actually, though, the color changes are not a sign of death, they’re just part of the natural life cycle of a healthy deciduous tree. It’s actually an indication that a healthy tree will be able to successfully hibernate through a normal winter. Dying grass would be pretty sad, though — although the root system may actually still live, but I’m not sure about that one — but that doesn’t occur in every region. In the Pacific Northwest (where I grew up), for example, autumn brings the highest rainfall of the year, and the grass and evergreens and other green plants are even MORE verdant than usual, alongside their colorful deciduous neighbors. Also, in northern rural communities, the most significant aspect of autumn is that it’s harvest time, the time when all of their hard work comes to fruition (literally, haha :D), and there’s an abundance of produce. It’s a natural time of feasting. 🙂

    So… There you have it! 🙂 Hope that’s helpful!

  5. yes. very much aware that the leaves changing color & falling off of trees are a sign that they’re dying. yet i heart autumn because it reminds me that change/transition can be a beautiful thing (and as a person who’s been through lots of transition in the past 4 years, that’s a big deal). the hot weather of summer seems to give people license to dress less-than-modestly whereas the cooler weather means dressing in layers, which is more forgiving to my less than stellar figure. also, i enjoy pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, etc. even though in nature, things are drawing to a close, this is the time when things like school and the fiscal year begin, or new tv shows premiere. /end ode to autumn comment

  6. Autumn is a lot like we are. We have seasons…rather than thinking autumn is about dying (btw I used to **loathe** autumn) it’s now a time of year where I gather the things I’ve been thinking about or invested in somehow during the Spring and Summer months (those times are usually more full with activity). I collect my thoughts like people collect their leaves into piles.

    More depressing than autumn in winter…usually. Well for me, anyway. weeks and weeks of grey sky, poor weather, COLD, and too much indoors. But now I actually, think of it as my own dormant season…not inactive mind you, but rather a time for dreaming. (So, I’d like to think the trees are not in a sleep of death, and sort of upset, or depressed that they are leafless….but instead the trees are dreaming. Corny? you bet… but maybe not that crazy after all.) Spring and renewed life come again…and it’s great to know that Spring is all completely unstoppable.

    Also warm mulled cider. Very enjoyable.

  7. Here’s a site that offers a simple explanation of the color-changing phenomena: http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/leaves.html. What is happening during autumn stems (haha :D) mainly from the fact that winter days are shorter, and thus there is less sunlight available. In order to prepare for a time of less sunlight, trees use their leaves during spring and summer to store extra energy. Then, much like hibernating animals and dormant bulb roots, they enter a period of rest, shutting down their centers of photosynthesis and drawing from their supplies of stored energy. The trees are no more dead than the squirrels in their burrows and the ants in their mounds. 🙂

    I just mention all of this because I noticed that some people who love autumn are a bit torn, because it seems to them that everything is dying. However, in most situations, things are not dying, they’re just resting. :))

    I guess I’m sort of a plant person, so I hope that wasn’t overly planty for everyone… I was just hoping to cheer you up! :))

    These comments are so beautiful, by the way. 🙂 I’m glad to have had the chance to read them! :)))

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