It happens every year. It first comes when I notice the evenings turning darker a few minutes earlier each night. The sunset that feels much too premature accompanies the ache. It’s subtle and under the surface, but it is there. I feel it again a couple weeks later as I load the grocery bags into the trunk of my car after a quick late night shopping trip and feel the slight nip on the backs of my legs. It reminds me that shorts-wearing weather is coming to an end soon.
I first fight against the ache. I plan more hikes, more picnics, a quick road trip, anything to hungrily hang on to summer. I ignore the dimming light for as long as I can. It’s a strange phenomenon that happens every year and it mystifies me. I love pumpkins and sweaters, boots and crunchy leaves. I find autumn cozy and charming, but somewhere in my biology I can’t help but mourn the end of summer.
I used to think I was pretty good at handling change, sometimes I long for it. However, as I’ve gotten older, I have come to realize what I really long for is novelty. Change is different. Change brings homesickness and nostalgia for how things once were.
During my manic end-of-summer binge, I often find myself in the canyons of the mountains I so love that frame my life. I want to soak up the outdoors as much as I possibly can while the weather is still pleasant. Then something happens, among the babbling streams and green leaves, I see the tinges of golds, oranges and reds on the cusps of the leaves. The fall colors interrupt my personal wake for summer and collide with the ache. With this flash of colors, I can let go of the warmth of summer and find joy in the crispness of fall. The changing leaves are always a reminder to me that although change can have its challenges, it can also be stunningly beautiful.