Autumn is my favorite season. Of all the changes that occur throughout the year, the shift that happens between summer and winter is the most striking. Lush green begins to curl and change, then bursts into a brilliant golden rainbow, before turning cold and letting go of life. It is like watching an entire life pass by over a span of three months.
I am not alone in this. One glance at my Tumblr dashboard is enough to see that I am surrounded by autumn-worshipers. Colorful leaves! Fall scarves and boots! Hot chai and flavored lattes! In a way, it is an odd thing, the way so many of us celebrate autumn. Why autumn? When you think about it, it is summer that we really love. Summer, when we are all at our best. Summer when our leaves are lush and green, and the skies are clear blue and easy, and we still produce fruit and our gardens are filled with flowers. Summer, when the sun hardly stops shining, and we play, and feast, and stretch out our bare toes and sleep, warm and lazy beneath the stars.
When it is summer, we think that it will be summer forever. Then autumn creeps up so quietly, that we barely notice until the middle of the change. Suddenly, our lush green is streaked with rust and gold and crimson and amber. Our flowers hang, dried, upon the walls. The air is still warm, but there is something different – a coolness that makes us shiver. A warning.
Winter is coming.
The very idea terrifies us. We want to change the clocks. We want to turn and run back down the hill, but those warm summer valleys are already gone, enshrouded in gray fog. The season has slipped away. We can remember the summer. We can paint it, and sing it, and capture it in stories, but we can never keep it. Winter must come, and winter will come.
So we accept the autumn. We learn to appreciate the season in a new way. We sip cider and spiced tea. We illuminate our homes with pumpkin cinnamon candlelight as the days grow shorter. When the fickle sun hides her face from the world, we warm ourselves with memories of summer. As the shadows lengthen, we choose to honor the night. We hold hands and face the dark together. And as nature displays her last colorful show, we cheer the loudest of all – perhaps because we know that it is our last chance to celebrate before winter claims us.