This article originally appeared in Allegany Magazine, October 2022. Read the original article here.
There is a sweetness the whistle of the fall wind, sometimes a soft reminder, other times, not, of what is to come. The fall leaves are one nature’s many art show, it puts on for us typically in the months of September through November.
A survey by YouGov showed that majority of Americans chose Fall as their favorite season, they said they most enjoyed watching the leaves change. Scientifically, as the days get shorter with less sunlight, less chlorophyl is available for plant leaves to continue the process of photosynthesis, resulting in the change in leaf colors and eventual death and falling off of the leaves. This process which typically takes a few weeks, depending on a few variables (weather, wind, temperature) can be seen a reminder to us of the cycle of life in the mountains.
Along, with the leaf peeping, pumpkin pies and turkey sandwiches that are sure to come in the following weeks, it is prudent to acknowledge that Fall is a time of ripeness, harvest and rest. Yes, a lot of us are not in fields planting in Spring, tilling and weeding in the Summer as a means of sustaining our livelihood, however, the concept of harvest and rest still applies to our physical, emotional and spiritual lives. There is rest to be had from internal and external pressures, from planning elaborate beach vacations, from training for summer triathlons, from the big summer projects at work. In Fall, things get simpler, slower, we settle for sitting around the fire watching the star, instead of packing up the family and driving 8hrs to the beach and returning more stressed out than when you left. We take long drives along leaf-lit windy country roads, go for a hayride with friends and family, and if we really need some excitement, visit a good old haunted house. There is something about Fall that is a healing salve for our weary souls.
During the Fall Equinox, there is an equal amount of daylight and night, giving us that sense of balance. No more do we have the luxury of procrastination, knowing we can still cut the grass at 7:30 p.m. with the sun behind the mountain, its lights out at 6 p.m. We are able to start to reestablish balance and margins in our lives. To attain balance, one needs a level of maturity and that is what Fall is, gleaning the lessons of time, growing older and wiser. It is like the prime of life before the decline. It is when we know to appreciate what really matters, youth, vigor, grandchildren, mistakes and the ultimate vulnerabilities and ironies of life. In fall, we recognize that the work has been done, and it is no longer in our hands, now we wait to reap whatever has been sowed.
For those of us who road cycle, there is a distinct advantage in our ability to go fast in the shorter fays of fall. Not only is there a good chance of a tailwind, less heat and humidity, but most importantly, there is improved vision. During Fall, as the leafs begin to disembark the tree trunks, it becomes easier to see around bends and plan better lines as you ride. Likewise, during this time, we are afforded the time to plan, using the lessons learnt from the year thus far, we are able to glean from all the experiences that have gone on through spring and summer, and begin the ground work of planning that happens through winter. It is therefore no surprise that even in the professional sphere, lots of strategic planning and retreats occur in the fall. In historic times, war fought in the spring had their plans drawn in the Fall.
In this season of rest, we can read the leaves and listen to the stories they tell, the stories of the cycle of life, what is born will blossom, die and be reborn. Wherever we may find ourselves, we must accept that it is a season which will pass and the winter will come, but so will the sun.