No season grabs our attention like autumn does. For those of us living in a temperate climate surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn is a period of visual transformation that is both captivating and thought provoking.
For many parts of the world, this vibrant season begins with the autumnal equinox. It is when the amount of day light starts to dwindle and the nights stick around a bit longer. The sun begins to feel increasingly distant as we blast towards the cold winter.
The air starts to feel crisp. Every bit of sunshine we can catch and wrap around ourselves now feels precious and uplifting. The temperatures gradually drop, with a corresponding increase in the number of layers we put on. Soon we are greeted in the mornings with glistening dew and magical foggy scenes.
Deciduous trees somehow know they need to brace for winter so they stop producing chlorophyll – the chemical that gives leaves their green colour. The ingredients that remain decorate leaves in dazzling shades of yellow, red and purple. Eventually even the slightest breeze will cause the leaves to break and float away.
In autumn, divine is in the detail. If we’re mindful, our attention is drawn towards the tiniest detail and what feels like the most inconsequential of moments — the unique shades of individual leaves, a leaf quietly detaching from the tree and dancing in the air, the decaying leaf. Little fragments of beauty or wonders of life?
The bold colours of autumn don’t just hang on trees and lie beneath our feet. Some of the most stunning sunrises and sunsets are witnessed in autumn, turning the sky into a fleeting but stunning motion picture. These brief but magnificent moments compensate for those cloudy skies and rainy days.
Autumn does more than just charm us. When a tree stands in front of us, adorned in boastful colours, one has to be consumed by deafening amounts of mental chatter to not feel the urge to pause. When the fallen leaves ruffle below the soles of our shoes, perhaps only a very busy schedule can stop us from slowing down.
No season prompts us to reflect like autumn does either. Anyone who closely observes the world around us during this period is prompted to contemplate on larger-than-life matters. Afterall, it is a season that heralds change and reminds us that everything near and dear to us is impermanent.
It is the season when Mother Nature subtly invites us to watch and learn one of life’s most demanding lessons. Indeed, the autumn spectacle is a graceful display of detachment and letting go.
The deciduous tree knows it must withdraw support from an integral part of itself, but she does not fight the inevitable fate. Nor does she banish the leaves in a hurry. She simply accepts that it is an occasion to let go and makes time to do so gently and ceremoniously. If she holds on for too long, she risks destruction. Maybe she has more wisdom than we’ll give her credit for, or perhaps she is able to place her trust in the new beginning that awaits.
In our part of the world, the calendar year has just started and we’re gearing up for a productive year. But our drowsy selves seem to be taking a different cue from the longer nights and dusky mornings. It turns out that even Mother Nature, who is continuously creating and nurturing, is winding down to rest. For in spring, when her new year begins, she will need a burst of energy to blossom and thrive again. Would it serve us well to take a leaf out of her book?