About a year after we got married, my husband’s job moved us to Phoenix. We had both spent most of our lives in Washington state, enjoying four distinct seasons and loving it. Phoenix has only two seasons: warmish-hot and surface-of-the-sun.
Our first October in Arizona, my mom sent me a care package—a box stuffed with bright orange leaves from home and nothing else. My mom understood. I cried.
See, I’ve always loved fall. When I was a child, fall meant back-to-school, which nerdy little me absolutely adored. I lived to organize my new school supplies the night before school started. Fall was full of fresh starts, the smell of pencils and erasers, and endless possibilities. It still feels like that for me.
It’s always been the feel of fall that I love. The way greens turn to golds and reds, the way the sunlight changes, and the way everything gets bathed in a warm hue. Cute boots and sweaters and pumpkin spice everywhere. Cloudy days when all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book.
But as I get older, I find myself appreciating fall for more than the aesthetics and nostalgia of it all.
Fall is unique among the seasons. You can live in places that feel like perpetual summer or perpetual winter, and even perpetual spring. But there is no place that feels like autumn all year long.
Everything about fall is fleeting; we have no choice but to enjoy it while it lasts, because it doesn’t. Its entire purpose is transition—a gradual, gorgeous celebration of change.
Fall is when nature senses a shift coming and starts letting go of what she spent the spring building and the summer maintaining. I no longer need these leaves to be me, she says. I am still alive without them.
Fall looks like dying, but it’s not. It’s simply nature wisely looking ahead and shedding what no longer serves her. Nature won’t need all of her greenery in winter. She knows she will no longer need to produce; she can just be.
But she makes the absolute most of the transition. In fact, she’s particularly beautiful while it’s happening—not because her golds are prettier than her greens, but because her golds and oranges and reds make her greens all the more stunning with their contrast.
Lately I’ve been looking at life in seasons…
Our childhood and teen years are like spring. We burst into life, then we bloom. There’s always some new kind of flower unfolding. Sometimes it gets muddy, but the rain helps us grow.
Our twenties and thirties? That’s summer. The busy season of construction as we build careers and families and homes. Long days and short nights. Lots of fun, but the constant heat can be exhausting.
As we enter our forties and fifties, fall arrives. Kids start leaving and we learn to let go. We’re not old yet, but our own faces tell us it’s coming. If we are wise, we start shedding things that no longer serve us. It’s a season of transitions, but at this point, we know how beautiful change can be.
Then comes winter, the season of being. I’m not there yet, so don’t know its secrets, but I’m sure they are plentiful.
I believe everything in nature has something to teach us. In meditating on the fall of my own life, I find lessons in detachment, but also fearlessness. Nature doesn’t passively accept change, she celebrates it, making herself as bright and beautiful as possible in the process, showing us that life is so much more than we think it is.
I’m not dying—I’m preparing.
Watch me blow your mind with these colors.
Watch me change the whole world as I change.
Watch me let go of these leaves I made for living.
They were never life itself.
You only thought they were.