What is your favorite season of the year? Don’t think about it. Give me your gut reaction. When asked about my favorite season, I generally blurt out, "Summer." I am drawn to the colors of summer — green leaves, red strawberries, yellow glow or fireflies, pink and blue followers, tan sand — as well as the opportunity to bask in the sun after a swim and walk barefoot. Yes, summer is my season of choice.
In recent years though, autumn has been working to win me over. Indian summer days followed by cool nights, putting on jeans and a sweatshirt again, a cup of tea as the sun fades earlier in the evening and of course, the colorful canopy.
Close your eyes and picture the deep reds, vibrant yellows, fiery orange and subtle browns against a sapphire blue sky — stunning to say the least! Yes, autumn is coaxing me to choose it over summer.
Autumn, more than any other season, fills my senses, from the slow unveiling of pigments previously shrouded by green to the rich smell of discarded foliage to the crunching sound shouted by grounded leaves that fell as softly as a whisper. This awe-filled experience is one I never tire of, yet one that brings the reality of the winter to come. Ah, maybe this is why I hesitate to give autumn its standing as my favorite season.
Fall color change is not only amazing in an artistic sense, but also a scientific one. I am equally as wowed by the physiology behind leaf transformation as I am the experience of simply watching it happen. As hormones are released in reaction to day length and temperature changes, a layer of cells is formed between the twig and leaf stem slowly cutting off water from entering and food from leaving the leaf. Simultaneously, the "green," or chlorophyll, begins to breakdown, unmasking colors previously hidden. While light is still captured to power photosynthesis, the wall between leaf and branch, between life and death, continues to build. Finally, the leaf falls to nourish the soil from which the first sprout took hold. The cycle continues and nature retells her story.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about what seems to be a loss of "awe" in our culture. Plagued by planning calendars, we go about our days watching the clock more than what is naturally around us. I find this a shame because I believe experiencing awe in nature grounds us. Awe can make us feel small, not in an insignificant way, but in being part of a larger whole. This "whole" deserves our appreciation and even reverence. Step outside this fall and see it for the first time.
Be in awe!
Barb Holtz, Manager, Look About Lodge