In the Midwest, the grass is thickening and widening, the color deep and truly green. When the sun slants through my garden door around three o’clock in the afternoon, you can see the yellow-green haze of color flowing through the yard. There are a few roses lifting their lovely heads. The aster’s purple is fading and the apple tree has lost all of its golden leaves. The mums on my front porch sigh with loss, but we can still celebrate the colors of fall, the orange of pumpkins, the symbols of the end of the season, the perfect blend to highlight the green grass that will return and the golden leaves that blow and sparkle like some crazy fairy dust.


My back garden walk is now swept clean, allowing me to enjoy the tidiness of the fading season. When things fall back toward the earth, the outlines of garden and lawn, of walkway and road, become more apparent. This definition pleases my sense of order and organization.

Fall is the time to remember the trailing vines and the riot of summer flower color, to now become satisfied with the quieter tones that hug the ground–the shaped evergreens, remnants of fall that are softening, the air cooler, drier. The skies have swept up too, presenting swathes of crystal blue. You can see the definitive outlines of the trees, and the houses along the street–definition being the order of this season. It’s soothing and with family help, garden things are cleaned and put away, everything quietly asleep, waiting for a reawakening.


to store energy, like rabbits and squirrels or fly away, like birds who leave for warmer places. With Covid 19, most of us will stay in place, storing energy for the burst of growth in the spring. I have always been a person who seeks solace and quietude more than riotous living. I don’t like loud bars, overdrinking and eating. I like the lines of furniture in my rooms, broken only by the placement of things I love that sit on their surfaces—a flowered pillow, a piece of crystal, a flowing candle of light.

This is my season to highlight my rooms with colors like autumn leaf, chamois and seagrass, all reminding me of endings, good endings that are resolute and leave one feeling blessed, not sorrowful. 

Autumn is the time to tidy up one’s house, yard and soul as the earth prepares for sleep and hibernation. In colder climates, like the squirrels, we stock up on food-energy and light-energy, remnants of what our ancestors needed to survive. We find a time when we can settle back into our brains and examine who we are, where we are going, and how we might improve. Life cannot be lived like the riot of spring where nature blows her wad and lets everything grow and rush about, sperm floating in the millions until it whittles itself down to one plant, one bud. We humans must be more judicious in our use of fertility and in how we utilize and share our bounty.


In autumn, we need to count the jars in the cellar, the apples in the basket, the sins on the soul. We need to tidy our lives and draw within to discover how we will survive, how we will make it through the dark times of our lives. In spring, when life comes back, we hope to have no fears for the future. 

I will miss the complacency of California, where change is not so noticeable as it will be this year, being back in the Midwest. So what’s happening? Our fireplace is being cleaned tomorrow and we have a new shed to store wood. . . 

What rituals do you go through as the seasons change?

Anne Lamott writes: “Autumn ain’t so shabby for Wow, either. The colors are broccoli and flame and fox fur. The tang is apples, death, and wood smoke. The rot smells faintly of grapes, of fermentation, of one element being changed alchemically into another, and the air is moist and you sleep under two down comforters in a cold room. The trails are not dusty anymore, and you get to wear your favorite sweaters.” 

Thanks to Jennifer Williamson