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!)