Cool days, football, cloudy skies, apple picking, pumpkin patches, leaves flying around, mild weather, sweatshirts… These are just a few of the many things I love about autumn. It is a beautiful season of change.
The days become cooler, the nights too. The air conditioning gets retired, and if we’re lucky, the heat stays off too. Summer sits on our hearts, and winter is around the corner. The perfect fall is neither hot nor cold, but a nice balance of both. It’s such a short season where I live, if I blink, I will miss it all.
Years ago, when I was a new teacher in New England, I loved it when the leaves started to change. I loved the colors, the weather, and everything about the month of October. It was magical.
One day, I remember telling another teacher how much my heart sang during this season. She looked at me, and said, “Oh, I love the colors, but all I can think about is the snow that will be flying soon. Fall is short and winter is long. Winter is almost here.”
My heart sank, she was right. Autumn is the gateway to winter, and I have yet to live in a place without snow. I hate being cold. To me, winter, frost, snow, and ice are stressful. I pray for long autumns and springs, and short winters.
I learned the hard way how quickly autumn passes, and another isn’t always guaranteed. Three years ago, my family was experiencing our last autumn as a family of four. My husband was growing ill, yet we did not understand it. I spent weekends in class and photographing families. Our family missed our favorite activities. We skipped the apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and autumn hikes that normally filled our lives. We even skipped the autumn family picture. It is easy to let go of those moments, because there’s always next year.
There was always more time. Why would this one be different? Except it was different for us. It was special, and yet it wasn’t. There is no going back. The past cannot be changed. Regrets sit on my heart, and always will.
However, I can learn and grow from these regrets. I can look at autumn and take a morning walk with my daughter before school. I can take time to watch the leaves trickle off the trees little by little. I can pause to watch my kids pick apples, select pumpkins, or sip their cider. I have learned to live in autumn. To be present. To enjoy what is right here in front of me right now, in this season of beautiful change.
Living in the moment is special. It is the only guarantee that the future has to offer. Autumn is about being present, in the moment. Learning about the past, dreaming of the future, but loving this moment, right here, right now.