Feelings on a Fall afternoon

Published 6:05 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

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It’s late afternoon, and the sun is sinking closer and closer to the horizon. The rays cast a sort of golden light on everything as the sky above starts to shift from daytime blue to dusky orange and pink.

It feels like it should be too early for sunset, but the long days of summer are far behind you now. Now is the time of transition, when you start shifting from ‘reading a book on the porch’ weather to ‘cozying up by the fireplace’ weather.

Temperatures seem temperamental this time of year. Like the world has its fingers on an old-fashioned thermostat dial, just waffling back and forth between extreme hot and extreme cold until it finds what feels most comfortable. Everyone else will just have to deal with putting on and taking off light jackets and sweaters until the world makes up its mind.

The autumn afternoon brings forth the ‘winds of change’ as the season shifts. Stepping outside for a walk, you feel the breeze tickle your skin and dance through your hair like ghostly hands of the past reaching out to say hello. This is the time of year, after all, for remembrances and thankfulness. To reminisce about loved ones lost and to appreciate the ones still here.

You don’t mind a little shiver, a little chill in your bones. It’s almost like you aren’t walking alone.

But what’s got the most of your immediate attention is the colors. Greens, greens, and more greens giving way to reds, yellows, and oranges. Maybe even a little bit of purple mixed in, almost hidden amongst the more vibrant ones. It looks like a painter has dropped his palette and all the paint has splattered on the trees.

An impromptu work of abstract art. The world is an art museum exhibit and you have a free ticket to the show.

And the art is different every day, always changing even when you glance away.

Fallen leaves and pine needles have already started to carpet the ground. Nature’s little throw rugs laid out to add some pizazz to Earth’s exterior decorating. Some people like to rake them up and toss them away, but the wind inevitably continues to bring more replacements anyway.

Eventually, they’ll break down over time and fade away, get absorbed into the soil as an extra boost of nutrition for the earth.

But for now, the dried old leaves crackle and crunch under your feet. These are the sounds of the season.

If you close your eyes, you can still hear the rustling of leaves as the playful wind knocks them off branches. You can still hear the quiet pattering of the leaves as they hit the ground. Every now and then, there’s a little percussive thunk of an acorn or other nut falling too.

It’s an orchestrated symphony. Full of old familiar songs even though there are no words to go with the tune. (Unless, of course, you write the words yourself.)

If you listen hard, however, these aren’t the only sounds. In the trees, there are chattering squirrels and chirping birds. All hustling and bustling as they prepare for winter ahead.

And in the distance, perhaps there’s also the humming of a diesel-powered tractor engine, rumbling as it rolls through a field all day long. Like the trees, the crops of cotton and soybeans have lost their leaves too, leaving behind only the most important parts to be picked.

In its wake, the tractor leaves behind a cloud of dust and the smell of upturned dirt and cut plants. But it settles again after a while, and then the field is wide and empty once more as it waits for next year’s crops. It’s the cycle of life.

You try to appreciate all the sights and sounds of fall as they come. The time of transition doesn’t last forever. These kinds of days are fleeting – just like the afternoon sunlight – and winter will be here soon. The trees will transform into bare brown branches, and the grass will collect the early morning frost.

But until then, you enjoy this season as much as you can, walking amongst the falling leaves on a crisp autumn afternoon.


Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.