Fall is my favorite season. Intellectually, I realize that the plants are dying and that the world is shutting down for winter. However, I have been a student for so many years – the vast majority of my life – that, for me, fall is always the season of new beginnings, a chance to do better, to get on track, to learn and to grow.
For that reason, I delight in sitting in my backyard in the fall. When I am in France in autumn, I always go outside to sit in a spot we call Angel’s Rest to look across the valley as I write my morning pages. A thick coat and a cup of hot coffee keep me warm and the gorgeous fall colors of trees and shrubs keep me happy.
My Favorite Season
Autumn is my favorite season. With the cooling of the air, I feel invigorated and ready to tackle the creative part of my life, an aspect that gets dulled in the hotter days of summer. In France, the glory of fall days stimulates me, the crisp air and the brilliant yellow of the plain tree leaves, the red and orange of the oaks, the butter-colored ginkgo foliage. I can almost smell the citron fragrance of new beginnings.
Fall is hands down my favorite season. The cool breeze may distress others, but it stimulates me. This, for me, is the “I can” season where all of my dreams that seemed like bloated fantasies in summer, develop sharp outlines and beckon me to the challenge.
The San Francisco Garden in Autumn
I am not wild about spending the last days of summer in San Francisco. Despite the beauty and open-spirit of the ‘City by the Bay,’ it has no seasons. Spring looks like summer, summer looks like fall, and winter is indistinguishable. Leaves don’t explode into fireworks of color, shrubs seem to live forever, and the pace hardly varies from one season to another.
It’s true that the summer garden will hold warm-season veggies like tomatoes that won’t last into fall. The flowers that bloom in late spring often continue blooming at least through autumn and often into winter: hydrangeas, princess tree, poppies, nasturtiums, sage, and California lilac.
France in Autumn
The opposite is true in France. The change is stunning, sudden, annual but unexpected. Fall comes out of nowhere and the tulip tree leaves turn yellow so quickly its like someone painted them at night. Roses die back, the blackberries fruit, and the leaves of the hardwood trees – oaks and beech – turn bright colors and fall, leaving a drape of color on the ground beneath each tree.
I love watching this drama take place in the garden in autumn, love the wild mushrooms that appear, symbiotic with the tree roots. I take joy in seeing the wild hare – as large as cocker spaniels – suddenly visible dashing across the hillside as the foliage dies back. More wild birds appear at the feeder and more bats take wing at sunset. Every now and then a wild boar crosses the yard, sometimes followed by little marcassins, miniatures of themselves.