I have been thinking lately about change, as the days are getting shorter and we inch our way toward autumn and then just behind her, winter.
Autumn used to be my favorite season.
Growing up in San Diego, where the average temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, autumn was a welcome change to the long and hot summer days. The few newly planted trees in my suburban neighborhood would change from shiny green to bright yellows and reds and oranges. The grocery stores would fill with pumpkins and frozen turkeys and cranberries and apples. And sometimes in the mornings, it would be cold enough to wear a hat and mittens.
But in my adult years, autumn reminds me of loss. It was in autumn that one of my dearest friends died, when my grandmother and father-in-law and sister-in-law died. It was when my children left home for college or to the army. In four-season climates where I have spent most of my adult life, autumn is when it starts to get colder, when the days get shorter, and when I am reminded that I am not a winter person.
I am reading “The Overstory” by Richard Powers, and a line I read yesterday caught my attention. Life is trying to tell us something that no one wants to hear.
I thought, what is life, what is autumn trying to tell me? What don’t I want to hear?
That change is non-negotiable.
We want to cling to all we hold dear, to our babies, to sun-filled days, to good books and savory meals. But, as we all know, nothing lasts forever. Yet, in this time of mourning the loss of long hot days, we can also celebrate what autumn and winter offer. They offer us warm spices that fill our bellies. They offer us more time with loved ones. And they offer us time alone with opportunities for reflection. There is beauty in this.
Which I was reminded of on my daily walk yesterday, when my eye caught sight of a tree with a lone red leaf, reaching out to tell me something. It said think of red—red tent, red fire, red passion, red rocks, red write and gather and create. Thank you, tree, for showing me that change, sometimes welcomed and sometimes not, can also be beautiful.