It happens after you are on the other side of Fifty–a reckoning; the moment comes to you when you know without reservation that there is more behind you than ahead of you. Every autumn becomes a requisite paring down of colors and leaves and daylight.
There is a tree on my street that every year, for about a week, turns to yellow fire, and when the wind blows through it, right before dusk, you’d swear it was alive. You’d think it was connected to something ancient and if it could speak it would whisper a foreign language nobody speaks anymore. Nature has this way with us; its own atavistic identifiers that move us for reasons we cannot always explain.
For me, there is always something sad about horse chestnuts when their spines fall off and they lay on the ground with craters like a decayed planet. It is nature, exacting its price, making mortal shells of once-robust and colorful structures.
I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but here in Chicago for autumn. The color change and the activity at my bird feeder changes incrementally every day and I’m able to sit on my back porch first thing in the morning and watch each moment become more amber, more laden with regret, and more relentlessly lovely. You don’t want to miss a minute of it.