The first leaf to fall

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
– Johnny Mercer

There is something elegaic about Autumn. I know that the official demarcation of the year is January first, but that date always seemed arbitrary to me – a mere turning of the calendar page between two days in the dead of winter. The start of Autumn is something else entirely – a thing you can feel. The sweet endless juicy hotness of August finally gives out, blown away by a crisp wind from the north.

These are the days of a gradually lengthening sadness, a time when people begin to turn to each other for warmth and comfort, when bodies and thoughts turn inward, and the yearly wait begins for that first leaf to fall, the first of many. To me, growing up with the seasons of New York, this has always seemed necessary, the slow death of Autumn’s waning days clearing the way for life’s reemergence in the Spring.

I used to help my dad rake the leaves when I was little. I wasn’t really much help – I probably got in the way more than anything else – but my dad always found something for me to do, and I was just glad to be out there in the crisp Autumn air.

Looking back now, I realize that I liked the wistful quality of the season, even as a child. The leaves were slowly dying, the light growing more gray with every passing day, and yet all of this served, in a way Summer did not, to remind me that life is something to appreciate, to savor and hold onto. More than any memory of Summer, those Autumn days I spent with my dad have a beauty in my memory, like a dream made of sadness and gold.

One thought on “The first leaf to fall”

  1. Autumn, bittersweet delight made of tangy feeling that eternity is coming to an end with a dab of tingling anticipation of great season at Met, fiery sway of the leaves on the wind… I collect some, that retain color and keep them in a crystal vase as a pledge of another Spring.

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