When you love someone, something reminds you of them every day – a snatch of a song, someone’s smile, an article you know they would have loved. The same is true of a season. I love autumn best of all seasons and every few days, something in the mood of the day reminds me that autumn is on its way.
Autumn is my favorite season. Spring is tender and summer lush, but it is fall that gets my vote for the most wonderful season. I don’t really know why. I love the freshening wind, the earthy colors, the crackle of leaves when you walk through the forest. I love the early twilight, the mushroom harvest, school starting back up, campfires snapping and birds heading south.
Browns and greens, burnt orange, deep purple and scarlet. The colors of fall are the colors of turning leaves and turned soil. And just a glimpse of any of these colors in other seasons brings autumn to my mind. I have helped this along by filling my closet with earth tones too.
And many of my favorite foods remind me of autumn. I love mushrooms. Although I only eat them in France when the wild mushrooms appear in oak forests in autumn, here in San Francisco you can get the boletes and chanterelles year-round, an easy ticket to autumn memories. Chestnuts, walnuts, apples and lentil soups all remind me of autumn.
Wrapped around and wedged between all these details is the sense of creative activity resuming as summer wanes. I have spent so much of my life in school – college, law school, my graduate degrees. Fall means my classes resume, I begin learning and creating again after the languorous pause of summer. Generally, I hate endings, but as summer’s heat yields to autumn breezes, I feel a new, powerful energy, and a heady sense that anything is possible. That means that there is enough fuel in the machine to tackle everything that needs to be done, both with school and in the garden.
Fall is in the Air
Fall is in the air. It’s more than just a pretty turn of phrase. To me, autumn actually occupies the air when summer ends. It’s the slight chill on the back of the breeze, the moist air that wakes you from summer’s slumber, rain hanging there, not quite ready to fall.
Living in San Francisco, I am reminded of this every day by our famous fog. I live about eight blocks from the Pacific and, almost every morning, I wake up to fog. In summer, early afternoon temperatures can top 70 degrees when the fog burns off, but by twilight, fog creeps back into the garden. It’s as if every day begins and ends with autumn.
My affinity for fall may be have developed from the weather in my home state. Growing up in central Alaska, life was mostly winter, with dark, sunless days and temperatures dipping to -70 degrees Fahrenheit (-57 C.). This was my usual work-a-day world through high school.
Summer in the North was short and bright – they don’t call Alaska the “land of the midnight sun” for nothing – but not hot. My experiences with hot weather were on vacations, those short periods when I didn’t have to do much of anything, and my body still thinks suntan weather is made for lounging. That means that during hot summers I find it hard to get my brain in gear to tackle mental work. It also means that the brisk winds of autumn serve as my signal to jump back into the fray. Since I am a Taurus, I have more than a few hobbit-like characteristics that lean me towards the fall season.
So it is really in the autumn months that I come out of my hobbit hole and shine in the garden. I am better able to manage lingering garden tasks while enjoying the fall weather – the changing of leaves into brilliant colors, the warming of sun-lit landscapes without the overbearing heat (or menacing cold), the refreshing breezes that bring about leaf dancing recitals, and more. It’s a far cry from where I started, but I’ll take it.