#Reminiscences: Autumn

Several years back, I wrote about autumn:

My love affair with autumn, though, dates back to Hannibal.  I remember walking around HLG and kicking up leaves on the expansive lawn.  I remember the smell of those leaves, and of burning them in big piles too. I remember the chill and crispness of that magical time on a college campus.  And I think that HLG and Hannibal and 5004 College Avenue is when I fell in love with autumn.

This time of year always brings about a certain wistfulness.  Days shorten.  Green gives way to brown.  Reminders of summer promises unfulfilled are all around.  So too the reminder that another circle around the sun is nearly over . . . another year nearly gone . . . .

Autumn reminds me that I shall never pass this way again.  Spring is hope; summer, joy; winter, promise.  Autumn alone is both sublime and melancholy.

John Donne said “No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”  The great man was right.

Hemingway wrote “You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light.”  The great writer was right too.

And therein is the paradox of this time of year.  We revel in nature’s grand finale.  In the promise of the holiday season.  In the satisfaction of wrapping the sun-cycle. In the scent and sound of leaves underfoot.  And we are saddened by the dying . . . of the leaves, of the flowers, of the light itself.

No matter, though. I quote the brilliant George Eliot:

Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. 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.

The hummingbirds are gone.  The leaves are falling.  And all is autumn.

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