Autumn is my favorite season. I love all of the birthdays (including my own) that happen in autumn, Thanksgiving and Halloween are two of my favorite holidays, and back-to-school shopping is fun even as an adult. The weather is crisp and clear, the trees paint the horizon in vibrant hues, the cooler air is cozy, comforting. There’s an excitement in fall, too, of the upcoming holidays, and for some, winter snowfall, and that buzz electrifies the air and makes the season feel heightened or exalted somehow.
But, underneath all of the beauty, beyond the trappings of color and celebration, there’s something sinister about autumn, too. The icy fingers of winter claw at the edges of each day, leaves turn brown, grass and flowers wither, sunlight weakens, darkness creeps in and takes hold.
I think my love of autumn is more closely related to this deep sadness than all the superficial beauty – I identify with it somehow. When I was younger, I was always captivated by the myth of Persephone, whose mother, Demeter’s, anger and sadness at her daughter’s violent kidnapping by Hades, caused the change in seasons. Spring signified Persephone’s yearly return to her mother and autumn was brought on by her descent back into the depths and darkness Hell. Autumn is about yearning, striving, trying to hold onto something that is always escaping you just as you’ve come to rely on it.
In winter we settle in, but in fall, the memory of warmth and joy is crystal clear and it makes the loss of them so much more acute. The beauty of the season is punctuated by a sadness that takes hold when the first leaves fall until the first crocuses begin to unfurl their hopeful heads from beneath the frost.
This time of year is unsettling, but it is that disruption that I like. It makes me set goals, reflect, knocks me out of the happy complacency of summer and I discover there is so much more to work towards, so much more to achieve. I create new routines, write lists, make plans, and become fortified in my resolution to work harder, be a better version of myself. I won’t let the sadness and the darkness take over.
I echo the earth, I echo the ancient myth of Persephone and Demeter: By spring, I promise myself, I’ll be stronger.