Why Do I Love Fall?
I admit, I feel sad that summer is ending where I live (in northeast Ohio, USA). These past few weeks, I’ve watched the sun creeping down on the horizon. I’ve noticed that the house finches, swallows, and bluebirds have disappeared. And I miss them. When I’m out driving, I’ve spotted a few leaves turning brown, yellow, orange, and red. The night temperatures have fallen into the 50’s. And, saddest of all, the days are getting shorter.
This changing into fall could have the power to put me into a deep funk. But it doesn’t—perhaps for two main reasons: 1) There’s so much beauty in fall, and 2) I know this dying is only temporary.
I love fall for its many beauties. First, there’s the beauty of harvesting. All that summer work of planting things and caring for them, rewards us in fall. This past summer, I had a teeny weeny, micro-mini, itsy-bitsy garden on my second floor balcony (which I prefer to call my “porch.”) I had two kinds of tomato plants, one basil plant, and one bell pepper plant. One of my tomato plants died. (I composted it in the woods.) But the other one produced a total of eight yummy cherry tomatoes! My pepper plant had three peppers at one time. But one morning when I went out on my porch to check on my garden, I saw (to my horror!) that the night winds had blown one of the peppers off. Despite that loss (one-third of my pepper crop!), the plant rewarded me with two perfectly formed red peppers—which I have already enjoyed. And I also had lots of fragrant basil. In addition, I enjoyed my bright red geranium plant and my pink and white impatiens all summer long.
Another beauty of fall is the sense of gratitude it instills in us. Yes, we may have worked hard to grow things, but we know we are certainly not responsible for the harvest. The work of sowing and caring for plants puts us in touch with the miracle of life itself. I always liked what Wendell Berry said about miracles. He said, “the miraculous is not the extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread.” He says that Jesus’ turning of water into wine was “a very small miracle.” He adds, “We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (and soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.”
And finally, the most obvious beauty of fall are all those colorful trees. Instead of describing the trees, let me insert a few pictures, allowing the trees to speak for themselves:
Fall is also a time of letting go, slowing down, diminishment, and apparent death. Those aspects of fall are a topic for a future reflection. For now, these are a few reasons why I love fall. What about you? Do you love fall? Why or why not? I hope you will share some of your thoughts below!
PS: A big thank you to the class of ’72 of Notre Dame Academy (now Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) for inviting the Sisters of Notre Dame to your Anniversary party Friday evening. We had a wonderful time! Readers, I taught this class my second year of teaching in the famous “Freshman Hall.” Then I had many of them again when they were seniors—so this class is special to me. It was a fun evening re-connecting with so many beautiful women. I’m grateful to God for putting these “girls” in my life those many years ago! I’m very proud of them!
Wendell Berry said miracles are our “common mode of existence.” I thought this song was appropriate. It’s “Ordinary Miracles” from the movie “Charlotte’s Web.” Here it is sung by Sarah McLachlan. I hope you enjoy the words as well as the lovely nature pictures.
Please share some of your thoughts on fall below. (I realize if you are living in the southern hemisphere, you might be enjoying the coming of spring. That just means you have to rely on your memory of the falls you have experienced!)
I live in RI and absolutely love Fall! The harvest to gather (my favorites being pumpkins, squashes and apples!), colorful leaves, crisp autumn mornings and evenings are so beautiful to behold. I do miss my little hummingbirds, though, and look forward to their return next summer.
Thank you for such a beautiful reflection, Sister!
Dear Liz, I too love the pumpkins, squash, and apples…yes, I’m missing the house finch that sat on my porch railing and serenaded me, but maybe he’ll return in spring. Thanks so much for your beautiful response! Melannie
Good morning Sr. Melannie!
I love fall. Cooler nights, warm days, the beginning of color, and, as you so eloquently write, “I know [the] dying is only temporary.” There’s a beautiful melancholy to fall. I smell it in the morning, an aroma of “goodbye for now.” An old friend has to go away for a while. And so, when I work the yard — pruning, gathering the leaves, mowing, etc. — I like to say “goodbye” to that beauty, knowing perhaps a deeper beauty awaits in winter. Also, baseball extends into fall, and a certain team — not my Red Sox — will be vying for contention! Go Guardians!
Being in the State of New York, and having grownup in the upstate part of it, I’ve been privileged to see the stunning colors of the changing leaves many times. And while I love seeing them, I also dread the coming cold and the terrible winters. I HATE the cold!
John, congratulations to your team for making the playoffs. I read that they are the youngest team to have made it. And while I wish them well, I must continue to root for my team, those fabled New York Yankees, whom I have loved since I was a little girl!
Dear John, Great to hear from you again. Yes, sometimes melancholy can be beautiful… And it takes hope to believe that “perhaps a deeper beauty awaits in winter.” And thanks for cheering for our scrappy young team in Cleveland! They have surprised the baseball world by clinching a playoff spot! Go, Guardians! Melannie
Good morning Sister Melannie,
I live in Ohio too and love the changing seasons! Fall is my favorite. It is easy to see God’s love in the beautiful colors. I read your reflection “The Sparrow in my Office” this morning and decided to find your blog. Glad I did! Thank you for the beautiful reflection.
Thank you for the beautiful reflection and absolutely song and video which puts everything in perspective. I have been missing your reflections and resubscribed with a different email address. Hope I start receiving them again.
Dear Pat, Thanks for responding today. I hope we get our problems fixed soon regarding subscribing to my blog. Thanks for your persistence! Gratefully, Melannie
Dear Sr. Melannie,
I love your blogs but still am not receiving them.
I was wondering if you have ever written about Mother Teresa?
Autumn has long been my favorite season, for many reasons, so thank you for this beautiful reflection, Melannie. This time of year always sends me back to one of my favorite poems: “Spring and Fall” by Hopkins. The last two lines I find especially powerful and call me to prayer. Both of my parents as well as my only sibling all died in autumn (October and November). It’s a profound time for me.
Fall has not come to Kansas City yet, but cool weather is on its way. I love the fall —thanks for your thoughts on it. Always right on!
For some reason, we stopped receiving your beautiful Sunflower Seeds reflections and didn’t realize it until we saw your “Sparrows” scripture reflection this morning in Give Us This Day. The weekly email was a good reminder for us with “senior brains”. How can we get those started again?
Fall is my favorite season
“For the Beauty of the Earth” is my favorite hymn.
Fall is my favorite season. The cool breezes, the vibrant colors of the leaves and the fires in the outdoor fire pits…warming the hands and the feet.
Sorry, I have been slow in answering. Still not receiving your blog. I think I might do what Sr. Pat did and subscribe with a new email address. Have a beautiful day Sister.
Saw your reflection in Give Us This Day and so glad to find your website. Here in SoCal no Fall to speak of but the days are shorter and we listen for the owls and even coyotes calling to one another before Daily Mass at the Old Mission. Thanks Sister. I’ll visit again.
Beautiful reflections, beautiful scenes. Thank you for them. I am also a Michigander so I have witnessed many of the gorgeous fall colors. Thank God for them.
Hello from Maine! We are ramping up Fall here and it is a beautiful time of year! Thank you for sharing the video….it was a perfect reply from God to me, and a reminder to really see how miraculous life is. May you find comfort and joy in your days of Fall and beyond!
Thank you Sr Melannie! We moved from Minneapolis, MN, Butte, Montana, Newark, Delaware and to Oakwood, Ohio (suburbs of Dayton) and I love the autumn falls! Thank you! Peace!
Thanks, Sr. Melannie,
Fall is my favorite season as well; there is the reality that all things must die before they can live again.
As I listened to the words of “Ordinary Miracle,” I was reminded of the recent daily readings from Ecclesiastes, especially the familiar “Vanity of vanities…all things are vanity!”
There is mystery in the repetition of events, day in, day out, year in, year out. The lyrics remind us that we need only pay attention to the mystery to understand the importance of the repetition, even that which seems mundane.