Remembering the season

Cheerful yellows and bright oranges, flaming reds and pretty pinks, deep maroons and aging browns .. that sneak up on you, haul you by the collar and bonk you on the head everywhere you go. And it’s not just the trees that turn color. What sets the New England fall apart is the ivy that falls in step with the season, and changes colors as well. Dull grey buildings and brownstones covered in suits of green during summer, looking all serious and stuffy. But fall arrives, and out come the masks and party hats, as they the join in the revelry and merrymaking.

Of course the rest of nature doesn’t like to be left behind, so it comes together to provide a backdrop to the leaves — impeccable blue skies, vibrant green pine trees, orchard grounds dotted with bushels of shiny red apples, chrysanthemums of a dozen colors blooming at every corner, and farms with hundreds of roly-poly cheerful pumpkins piled high, all waiting to happily tumble-tumble down.

But fall isn’t about color alone. It announces its arrival with a myriad of sounds, as well. Babbling brooks that tinkle at the first signs of frost. Rustling branches trying to shed the last of their leaves. Fallen leaves whooshing around in mini-tornadoes. The creak of the metal of an abandoned railroad track, one of the first to recognize the arrival of the cold. The rhythmic thuds of apples in a quiet orchard. The crunch of dried leaves under your feet as you walk on a cobblestone path. The squelch of old leaves in a puddle, as you step into it off the curb. Every single sound an instrument in the symphony of the season.

Fall is about touch too. The soft feel of a carpet of freshly fallen leaves. The kind that cover the ground so completely that you cannot tell what’s below. Bare ground, green grass, grey stone and charcoal pavement all painted over with reds and oranges, making everything seem equally friendly, equally warm and welcoming. Or a rough bale of hay beneath you during a hayride. Or the hard bumps of orphaned pine cones against your fingers as you collect them from beneath trees that have unthinkingly rejected them. Or the squishy feel of the insides of a pumpkin as you sit with your hands buried to your elbows in one, while a giggling three-year old makes you carve it.

And what is fall without the cornucopia of familiar smells and tastes? Of hot cider with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and cloves. Of the smell of butter and sugar from freshly baked tarts, tempting you into the local bakery. Of the crunch of piping-hot cooked apples basted in brown sugar, waiting to go into a pie. Of memories of golden maple syrup as you drive by a sugar bush. Of the smell of fresh carved pumpkins greeting you at people’s doorsteps. Of the lingering smell of pine trees in the air, even when you cannot see any nearby. Of Halloween candy that leaves you on a permanent sugar high. Of moist earth as layers of leaves are raked away. Of leaves slowly growing old.

It’s the season of change, when the skirts get longer, jackets are pulled around tighter, and walking becomes more purposeful as people hurry indoors. When cheeks turn pink as familiar faces burst into smiles. A season of lingering tight hugs, of quick kisses shared on park benches, of hands held a little longer. Of sipping on big mugs of coffee clasped tightly with both hands. Of watching your breath fog up and making pretend smoke puffs. Of sneaking up on a squirrel while it ruminates on what berry to eat, and having it look up and pose for you as you gleefully click.

Fiery yet melancholic, bold yet tender, quiet like an aging monarch, romantic like a new lover, sprightly like a child .. fall has many a persona, playing many a role. And as it concludes its performance, takes a bow and exits gracefully, it seems the perfect time to applaud the season. A season that makes your senses come alive. A season that makes your senses dance.

24 thoughts on “Remembering the season

  1. gvenum

    Beautiful stuff! The pleasant feelings and experiences one go through during this period is usually so hard to put in words. Not in this case. Its not just the senses, you made the words dance for you. I am really curious to check back again coming spring :).

  2. reshma anand

    This was a diversion from your usual style of writing no? It was a feast for the senses nevertheless (though i know that sounds corny’). Are autumn and fall different names for the same season? If yes, then autumn in england sounds like the poor cousin of fall in new england…the colour palate does not go beyond various shades of grey and an occasional ochre :(

  3. soulmate

    Very well written. I have not seen such a beautiful presentation of fall anywhere.. Fall is a very nice time of the year and perhaps the best too…

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  5. twinkle

    amazing. i picked the perfect time to read it: we had a crazy snowstorm here today, and your words took me back to fall…

  6. Amol

    You have deftly captured the essence of fall in these few lines; like an artist who needs but a few brush strokes to creat a portrait. It is a season that makes us melancholy and cheery at the same time. One ruminates over things past and tries to make sense of it all, even as we run from one corner of the mall to the other, looking for that perfect gift for our loved ones. One thinks of the friends left behind and the ones newly made; of uncertain futures and glories past.

  7. GHE

    Very well written, could not have described Fall more eloquently and beautifully…. Any kind words on winter also ?? :)

  8. Sandeep

    Ooh! You make New England seem so poetic! Somehow, all the beauty of Fall wilts away when the depression of winter sets in, doesn’t it? I guess you have all the reasons to rejoice this year… Almost mid-December and we haven’t had our first snowfall yet!

    Well written!

  9. Sriram

    * walks in through the door and looks around *

    Did I walk into the wrong blog?
    *checks URL*
    Oh wait.. this is the poetic phase that you go through! Sweet! But so evil you are. No bollywood references. How will the aadiences be accepting this posht?

    *pulls up a chair and makes some popcorn*

    *starts a nice warm fire and ends up burning said chair*
    Ok, that’s my cue to exit, stage left.

    *exits stage left*

  10. gvenum

    “exits stage left”

    Hey! Make sure you don’t bump into “Snagglepuss, the mountain lion”. That’s how he usually exists! He is one of those lions who consistently attempts ,failing everytime, to make his life more comfortable and hunts only few months and rests in his den, sipping English tea, the remaining just like apna “A” aka Hrithik in Dhoom-2.
    Let me quote what was said about him in the movie. ” A usually becomes atcive from July to October and takes vacation the rest of the time”. Active ? eh? It sounded like some kind of mammal coming out of hibernation just for the breeding season. That was one unintentional hilarious moment in otherwise slick movie. Bollywood reference? There you go!

    As far as Megha, “enter, stage center” please!

  11. raj da 2nd

    FALL!!! makes me miss it more n more now…that winter has set in…!! :( I want fall colors backk…whan..! snow snow go away, make way to fall n all the colors that went away!!! a touching post..tribute to nature at its best :)

  12. loverBoy

    Wow! So beautifully written!

    I came here feeling sad and you turned my emotions around (strange way to say) with your post. Now, I am smiling. Loved your post!

  13. National Tomato

    Wow, beautifully written. the New England fall had better be good for the horrid winter that follows it, when the Charles turns into ice and the towns and cities become dreary, the wind chills make you cry and all the life in Haava’d Square quietens down.

  14. tafosi

    This is lovely. It’s been more than 7 years since I came to New England but I still recall my first fall in Connecticut. The chill of the early morning as I walked to work or the wonderful evenings as I came back. Starting from October to about Thanksgiving there is magic in the air and I could just stare at those colors for hours. I also remember those trips some years ago in Vermont when we took a train ride, deep into the woods over the streams and through the covered bridges. I also remember stopping at a trailer which passed as a roadside diner, at 7 am to have fresh pancakes and maple syrup. And there there are the mountains of New Hampshire and the heavenly hights of Acadia National Park in Maine. Also, nothing completes your year unless you walk amongst the lights and holiday shoppers on Boston’s Newbury street, with cofee in hand.
    Thanks Megha for this post. It describes everything which one aspires for in life. For all those out there who have never seen New England in fall, I recommend the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Trouble With Harry”. Not a great film, but set in Vermont during fall.
    I love this place and no matter how much I curse the winter months, it would be sad when I have to leave. But I will always have the memory of those days 7 years ago when I first understood the true meaning of paradise.

  15. Vasu

    Going by the recent trend, I speculate that your next post should be sometime soon – its almost a month now… wanna bet? :))

  16. National Tomato

    although now it looks like autum will last all winter….where is the snow? when will it get cold? can u believe boston is still in the forties an fifties…urgghhh

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