“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower”
     — Albert Camus

Those of us who pay close attention to the cycles and seasons have had quite a wild ride this year.  Some years, there are leisurely transitions between winter and spring, spring and summer; but this year, the changes have landed with a thud and demanded to be noticed.  They certainly have grabbed my attention, and now summer has turned over the year to autumn in a tug of war that ended with the first yank of the rope.

As I rode to the farm stand for tomatoes and corn yesterday, I was stunned to see that nearly every tree had at least a splash of color among its leaves.  My drive toward the mountain that is the backdrop for my son’s house showed me a whole mountainside that already had turned fiery orange.  And today, as I came through the park, I was showered with hundreds of leaves as they fell from the trees lining the path.

My thoughts roamed to last year at this time; and I remembered days in the woods near the pumpkin patch, spent hoping that the leaves would change colors soon enough for the visiting children to feel all the color and wonder of autumn.  I remembered looking each day toward the mist-covered mountains and waiting for some color to replace the green.

Now my thoughts turn to the year that soon will end.  I think of the way that the snow of winter was here one day and melted into mud and sunshine overnight.  I thought of the way that all the spring trees bloomed at once so that I had to whirl my head from side to side in order not to miss one bit of the wonder that usually unfolds over weeks of days.  I thought of the way that summer stepped right on top of spring and set everything to growing almost before the roots had time to take hold of the earth.

Now, as the leaves of autumn begin their yearly display, I feel a sense of urgency – urgency to step outside as often as I can, to record in my mind’s eye all the color and beauty and ending and dying before some avalanche of winter comes crashing down in the night and sweeps it all away.

I pick up a fire-kissed leaf from the sugar maple that stands near the baseball field where the season has ended.  I twirl it back and forth and try to understand what it is that I am feeling about this year of abrupt changes.  Perhaps it is about getting older and about understanding that the cycles that once seemed timeless now move faster than ever.  I think about my own changes – some gradual, and some abrupt – and as I enter the autumn years of my own life, I want the colors to unfold slowly and quietly and gradually, so that I can savor each one and let its beauty embrace my soul.

I toss the leaf into the autumn air and watch it dance to the ground.  A sudden breeze touches the top of a nearby tree and sends its topmost leaves flying upward, defying gravity.  That is the sort of leaf I will be, I think.  I will catch the breeze and soar above the treetops; and there I will look down on the transition of another year.

I close my eyes and let the breeze kiss my face.  I take a deep breath and smell the musky scent of autumn leaves, as fragrant as any flower in spring.  With a skip and a hop, I dance on my way, fluttering through autumn and soaring on the breeze.  I will come out again tomorrow and not miss a minute.  That is how one must live when Autumn is in the air.