“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
I love the autumn because it seems to me an affirmation of life; a sort of comforting pause before the stillness and seeming bleakness of winter descends on the north, where I am from. Autumn in northern Minnesota is an explosion of color, the climax of the year, vibrant reds and golds against the green of the spruces and pines next to the cerulean blue Lake Superior. I understand Hemingway; like him, I exult in the autumn, find that autumn teaches me that the fireworks of color are how one should live before they die, and the cycle of seasons teaches me that nothing really ever dies–resurrection and rebirth are certainties, else spring would never come.
For five years I have lived on the great prairies of the West; there are no trees here–rather, it is the prairie that changes colors, going from varying shades of greens that ripple and shine in the unceasing summer winds, to yellows, golds and deep red, before turning into the listless brown of winter.
I find that something in me is missing living here; that the changing of the prairie in the fall is more sad than the bright leaves falling off of the trees. I suppose it is because the prairies always look so expansive, empty, like a sea of grass stretching to the horizon, and while the grasses whisper and make their own music brushing up against one another, it is not the same as experiencing trees. Trees make me feel safe; there is no emptiness in them. Instead of the empty space of the prairies, I find the claustrophobic closeness of the trees comforting; I think it is because I have carried vast empty spaces inside of myself, and needed to be surrounded by trees in nature in order to fill the void. I need to glory in the explosion of colors that is to me a celebration of life; and at the end of my days, I hope that people should celebrate the vibrant life I have had so that I might have the autumn of funerals –colorful, beautiful, if for no other reason than to comfort those left behind–that autumn is a glorious doorway that tells us that life only lies dormant; it does not cease, and if we walk through the winter long enough, even endure, there will always be a spring, and life returns.
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