How to observe Autumn


This books holds a picture of children jumping off a rock into the lake. This is the picture that captivates my boys. It’s not the drawings of the hurricane that rolls in across the lake. It’s always the rock. Mesmerized by the freedom to jump off such a high cliff.


Great classic books like this one means different things to you as you grow older. My favorite passage today is close to the end:

“As the days grow shorter and shorter there are fewer and fewer boats on the bay, until at last only the fishing boats are left. The wind blows brisk from the northwest, rustling the birch leaves. The ferns change from green to yellow to brown. The robins are gone from the lawn and the garden. The swallows have flown from their nests … to take their places, migrating birds from the north stop off to rest on their way south. The crows and the gulls fly over, fussing and feuding. And the hummingbirds visit the petunia patch.”

Children notice this change — but we don’t have the words to express or understand what we’re seeing just yet. As we grow older, we take the change for granted. We do notice the leaves changing colors, their fall, and we feel the chill. But there are a magnitude of shifts in tiny events like the hummingbirds, the slight shift in the wind, the sparse fishing boats, and the spreading quiet that fills the city pool. If asked, we’d say “Oh yeah, I see that.”

Reading these words now, I remember there was a time when I was free to observe all of these changes. Then, I was still small enough to bury my head into my Mother’s knees. That universal signal that all children give when they’ve had enough — and it’s time to leave them alone. There was a time when I could stand still and watch it all happen, the unfolding of fall, and know that for today, nothing in my routine was going to change. Too young for back to school, too young to worry about finding a winter coat, too young to realize that anything was going to change. Ever. Freedom.

Now, I participate in the change, with my own tasks for Fall, my head full of details I can’t afford to forget. Sometimes, too busy to observe.


“All personal change begins with the power of objective observation,” The Tao of Physics.

For more takes on freedom, visit Picture This.

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10 comments on “How to observe Autumn
  1. Wow.
    What you said.

    I actually remember noticing the changes as a child. One of my favourite books was ‘Swallows and Amazons’….the whole ‘summer vacation’ played out with its own universe, complete, distinct from reality…..and then the gradual fading of the time.


  2. Last week, Zack and I hung out at a park into the evening, during Lexi’s choir practice. This week it was much colder, and dark when we drove home.

    It’s happens quietly; it’s hard to absorb.

  3. I grew up in the country where nature was virtually my only friend and I still notice changes like these through i rarely have time to reflect on them.

  4. That’s one thing we don’t really have here, the color changes in the leaves. I’ve seen it before on my layovers and would love to take my girls to see it, too!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Julia and I have really been embracing fall. My pregnancy has forced me to slow down and be still and that’s helped me share the beauty of the season with my daughter. Just this morning, Julia and I were awake together as the sun came up and we noticed a tiny patch of orange in our green maple tree outside my bedroom window. We watched the sun peak over our rooftop and almost splash the orange onto that special spot – they very first spot the sun touches on the tree. Later in the day as we were driving, Julia began to notice patches of color on many of the trees. It was a special feeling – like we had a bit of a preview of the change that will be obvious to everyone in the coming weeks. Isn’t fall just grand?

  6. Pingback: Susiej » In just fifteen minutes

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