Autumn In California: Don’t Blink

autumn treeIn A Land Of Subtle Seasons

Autumn happened yesterday. I don’t mean it began yesterday, I mean it happened yesterday. The air that morning was cool and a bit damp. The trees, some of them, anyway, went flamboyant and commenced their annual striptease. It grew dark soon after I returned home from my office. Yes. Fall came–and went–yesterday. I’ve often told Californians-by-transplant that yes, yes we do have seasons. You just have to be discerning to notice them. 

Where I live, autumn means wildfires and HalloweenIt means mornings that dip down into the low sixties and evenings that creep in pleasant without the air conditioning. It comes every year, fleeting as a nervous homecoming princess.

Something comfortable, something familiar, roosts in my heart when the season shifts. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before. I’m almost 55 years old, so I’ve seen many a fall season come and go. I have carved my share of pumpkins. I have attended, and offered,  my share of Thanksgiving feasts.

But still. STILL. There’s a comfort, no, a blessing, in contemplating shorter days and cooler nights and stews for dinner and bare trees and children begging candy at the door. And maybe a fire at the hearth and a crystalline cool in the morning that disappears by 10, but returns before nightfall, comforting as an I Love Lucy rerun.

This year, like every year, is different. People have died and babies have been born and glory hallelujah, despite it all, this big old planet keeps spinning on her axis, twenty-four hours to a revolution, 365 days to one trip around the sun. My nephew went off to college this year. Our granddaughter Daphne learned to walk. My in-laws are moving. My brother’s in-laws just moved.

And the same old sun beats down, burning off the clouds, lighting our days, warming our bones, if only we’ll stand still long enough. 

It’s fall. Again. For a day.

This year, like every year, is the same.

9 You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
You greatly enrich it;
The stream of God is full of water;
You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
You settle its ridges,
You soften it with showers,
You bless its growth.
11 You have crowned the year with Your bounty,
And Your paths drip with fatness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness drip,
And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
13 The meadows are clothed with flocks
And the valleys are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, yes, they sing.

Psalm 65:9-13 (NASB)


  1. love the warmth here
    the comfort
    the easing in
    drink it all up, dear friend

  2. I have been melancholy the last few days. My tomatoes aren’t going to make it through next week, as the temperatures will be plummeting. I pulled out the warmer clothing and I’m lamenting my final lap with the lawn mower. You on the other hand are happy .. and that puts a smile on my face

    • I, too, would mourn for tomatoes. Except this year I never got any planted.

      Couldn’t you take the lawnmower for a spin without turning it on? (Or without engaging the cutting deck if you have one of those snazzy ride-on models?) I fear I am ignorant in the ways of the lawnmower.

  3. This is lovely, Sheila. And I know what you mean about how subtle it is. But I’m not sure I would agree that it’s fast. The main thing I love about autumn in CA is the changing angle of the light. The shadows lengthen and the colors deepen instead of bleaching out in the hot light of summer. And I enjoy it for all of its 12 weeks, even though I have to pay attention to do so. Love the way you wrote this and LOVE the picture.

  4. Lovely post, Sheila. Fall in SW Florida is much like yours, and it does take those of us who live here year-round to notice the subtle changes. We’re on our 3rd day without A/C, but it will likely be back on again next week. So it goes. I think we appreciate the changes even more because of their brevity. And whatever changes we are used to, they point to God’s faithfulness, I think.

    • Oh, yes. We may or may not be done with the A/C. And yes, the changes are really cyclic–part of the grand design.

      I once was visiting Ohio when spring broke out. I learned something fresh about springtime, watching it unfurl there. It was as if everything went from gray to green overnight. Spectacular.

  5. I never stop to think about an autumn striptease in California. This is lovely, friend. I guess everything is the same and everything is different in every season everywhere. If we’ll just stand still enough to notice.

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