Autumn leaves, autumn sneeze, fall breeze and fall trees. Is it most accurate to say Sept. 22 is the start of fall or autumn?
Both ‘autumn’ and ‘fall’ originated from Britain, according to Merriam-Webster. After many poets began using the phrase “the fall of the leaves,” the word itself became associated with the season
Fall is the season for all senses. The feel of cooler temperatures after a long summer. A warm, visually pleasing palate of reds, oranges and browns. The taste of pumpkin spice in everything. The sound of crunching leaves underfoot. The smell of woodsmoke.
The many elements of autumn either intrinsically deliver happiness or trigger memories of past joy from which we can keep taking bites, as from a freshly baked apple pie.
While we celebrate the seasonal joys, we should remind ourselves that they are blazes on a trail that goes deep into a beautiful forest of wisdom and meaning.
Like spring, fall is a season of transition, a reminder of the value of change, in this case from bright, buzzing, verdant summer toward the dark, quiet calm of winter. It’s a journey inward; first experiential, then intellectual and finally into the collective unconscious.
This season’s holidays remind us to be thankful for our bounty and to have fun. Our senses lead us to embrace the outdoors. Our emotions are heightened, brains kicked into gear, and our sense of time and place is nestled in big, leafy piles of autumnal joy.
This season simply feels nicer than the others. Some animals, like the fox, likewise grow a cozy, thicker fur in anticipation of winter. We are once again able to control our body temperature, with sartorial flair.
The emotions we feel in autumn seem more complex as well. There are many fun and enjoyable activities; it’s a season designed for communing with friends, family and nature. But there’s also something melancholy about the season.
“You expected to be sad in the fall,” wrote Ernest Hemingway in “A Moveable Feast,” because “part of you died each year.”
In winter, go deep inside yourself and get snug and comfortable there. In spring, let yourself break out of the cocoon because we’ve endured the darkness and need to let in the light. In summer, get outside, be free and chase happiness like a puppy after its own tail.
And in fall, welcome an inward and grateful focus as the days get chillier, darker and more meaningful.