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Autumn Reflection: The Familiar and the New

To learn something new, take a path you took yesterday.” John Burroughs Think about the feeling you get when you see a tree in full autumn color, the brilliant red of a maple or the golden yellow of a giant oak tree. Think about the feeling of a cool autumn breeze that tempers the warmth of the still strong October sun. Think about the comforting smells of baking pumpkin or squash. Think about the refreshing taste of a crisp apple. These sensations are all probably familiar, and we often get that sense of “déjà vu” when experiencing them. “Aah, this reminds me of when I was young.”We are not shocked when we notice the leaves changing color or the days getting shorter because we know and understand why these things happen. We expect them to happen, and so we then go about our seasonal behaviors as if by rote: hanging the same fall decorations, putting out the pumpkins and the mums, turning on the lights as soon as we return home for the day.

Yet, precisely because this time of year feels so certain and so familiar, we have a special opportunity to learn or experience something new:

  • Observe your favorite autumn tree, ask yourself: are the colors brighter this year? or not as bright? Think about why that might be the case. Learn how weather affects the changing leaves.

  • Wait just a bit longer into October before turning on the heat or the woodstove, appreciating the warmth provided just by your home itself or by a warm jacket. Remember how hot it was in July or August? Doesn’t the need to wear socks or a sweater feel great?

  • Don’t be so quick to turn on the indoor lights as it gets dark at 6:00 pm. Go or look outside and observe the evening light. Realize that the days are still much longer than they will be when winter arrives.

  • Are macintosh apples your favorite? Try gala apples or fuji! Love Bartlett pears? Try bosc this time.

If we’re too quick to follow the same steps each year, so many thoughts and feelings will pass us by. Take a moment to pause here in this time of Autumn. Feel the familiar sensations. And then, do something different. Learn something new.

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