No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.
~John Donne, The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose
A week ago, autumn arrived for me when I slipped into flannel-lined jeans to bundle up for the Saturday morning farmers market. Officially, I think it arrived last night, when I donned flannel pajamas and then, this morning, flipped the “Heat” switch on the thermostat to “Auto”, albeit with the temperature set quite low, just enough to take the daunting chill from the air. I’ll turn it down again tonight for perfect sleeping temperature.
At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne
In the park, summer’s bright colors have given way to brown, ochre, tan, grey, and black, at least when viewed in the aggregate. Above shoulder level, deciduous trees and some bushes flaunt their gaudy reds and yellows, while some have flung or floated their lives away to crunch beneath my feet as I walk.
But if you’re not in a hurry and you look carefully, you’ll find a few hearty souls still standing firm against the relentless encroachment of a sere landscape. These foreshadow the coming of Christmas’ reds and greens.
Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
[Letter to Miss Lewis, Oct. 1, 1841]
~George Eliot, George Eliot’s Life, as Related in Her Letters and Journals