I must admit that a contributing factor in my love for autumn is the beverages. Not pumpkin spice lattes or hot chocolate, though those certainly have merit as well, but a simple cup of tea. In the words of Chinese writer and philosopher Lin Yutang, “There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” It is, I suppose, a year-round beverage, but there is something magical about sitting by the window in the fall with a scalding cup of tea and watching leaves float to the ground as they paint an abstract masterpiece of scarlet and ochre and gold.
I’ve always wished I could paint, but the colors I mix seem too flat and muddy, pretentious next to the real beauty surrounding them: the flecks of quartz in the granite countertop, the light shining through the trees, a green vine curling up a cream trellis. In autumn, I feel that I am part of the painting. One must only step outside to see a thousand colors that could never be found in a paint box. I would try to name them, but the titles would become ridiculously long. Golden sunlight shining through leaves onto crimson rose. Marigold petals strewn onto red earth. It’s better to enjoy the beauty, allow it to be itself, unnamed, not confined to mere words.
Time seems to slow down in the fall. Whether it is the peace of the crisp, quiet air and warm fire, or merely that we take a moment to look around and appreciate the beauty, the reprieve is welcome. I always find myself outside a little more in autumn. Even as a child, one circuit around my neighborhood would quickly turn into two, three, four, directly proportional to the ever-growing number of fallen leaves clutched in my hands, stuffed into my coat pocket.
Perhaps the true allure of autumn is its ephemerality. The knowledge that each second another leaf falls from the forest’s monarchs makes us pause and take in the wonder before it flits away. If we approached life in the manner we approach this twilight season, maybe we would enjoy it a little more, appreciating each moment without worrying about the next. The world might be a little more impractical, but I believe we would find that the daily slog would transform from a toilsome chore to a process of learning and appreciating the beauty surrounding us. Autumn has an elegant simplicity about it that makes us children again, finding joy in a pretty leaf, a hot drink, a pair of fuzzy socks. Sometimes it is childlikeness that we need, the ability to find wonder in whatever crosses our path, instead of hopping over it to reach our destination. Where I live now, fall is humid and sultry, the sun stubbornly omnipresent. Yet perhaps the pattern is too deeply ingrained in me, because when autumn begins, I invariably find myself on the balcony with a cup of tea, watching the palm leaves swaying in the breeze, the evening sun setting them alight, burning with gold and crimson.
When autumn comes, the advice of writer Robert Brault rings true: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Maybe we just need a little more autumn in our lives.
Hannah Norman, who hails from Virginia, attends an international high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She has been published in the poetry magazine Rattle.