Wild with leaves

Autumn leaves at Colonial Williamsburg remind me of all that I love about the season. November, 2004

Autumn leaves at Colonial Williamsburg remind me of all that I love about the season. November, 2004

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
― Humbert Wolfe

The photo above was taken just a few months after we moved to Virginia, having lived in northern California for the past five years.  I was almost unbearably homesick for the west coast.  The heat, humidity, unpredictable thunderstorms and hungry mosquitoes had been a real adjustment. But when fall rolled around, it brought back distant memories that refocused my perceptions.

For the first several years here in Virginia, we had season passes to nearby Colonial Williamsburg.  After the crowds of tourists thinned out in the autumn, it was magical to walk the dirt roads there at dusk.  Fire torches and flickering candles provided light as the darkness fell, and the colors of autumn seemed a fitting complement to the carefully re-created historic atmosphere.  My rediscovery of the joys of the season was the beginning of my love for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In our other homes far west of here, we had seemingly endless warm days and mild evenings, year round (or nearly so) and dearly loved. Yet four distinct seasons provide a different kind of enjoyment, and I feel grateful to be back in the climate I loved in childhood.

What are your favorite memories of this season? Wherever you live, I wish you October eves rich with autumn’s unique enchantment!


  1. HarryS

    I always marvel at the beautiful colors of autumn and also the glorious sunrises and sunsets and I ponder the question of why God creates all this beauty when he didn’t have to? He could just as easily have put in a colorless plan! Why didn’t he?

    Lots of things apparently are for the joy and pleasure of Him and his children. 🙂

    Think so?

    • Yes, I totally agree. One day when Matt was in the midst of his first manic episode, and we were all frightened, thinking that he would never be the same, I can remember sitting outside in the swing with him (it would calm him, though he continued talking nonstop) and just looking at the trees and grass, feeling the breeze, hearing the birds, all of which seemed to be God saying “I love you” again and again. In once sense, I think I had never fully appreciated these things before. I was thinking about that day when I wrote this post, months ago.

  2. “Almost unbearably homesick” jumps out at me. This blog sometimes hearkens to simpler times — not only an era of less high-tech gadgetry, but even a time when generations lived out their lives in the same local. I suggest they were the lonely soldiers who left such environs that first defined “homsickness”. Then, there are the lovely word pictures involving colored leaves and flickering firelight. One is truly drawn. Some are drawn more to the past, whether the recent past of a previous decade of their lives, or the distant past, that glorifies the carefree experiences of childhood. I am more drawn to the crisp air, colored leaves, and flickering firelight of the present. I confess: In Autumn, it is far easier for me to say, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

    • Yes, I feel the same. Each autumn morning is a gift, no matter what else is going on. The sunny ones are glorious, almost euphoric. And even the rainy, cool ones feel warm and cozy, as they bring on thoughts of returning to favorite home-cooked dishes that we avoid in summer (for us, it’s my chili with cheese toast or cornbread) and getting ready for the holidays. I do agree that the term “homesickness” was probably first coined by people who may have been experiencing actual physical illness, possibly brought on or exacerbated by the ordeal of travel and the presence of strange new germs for which they had no antibodies.

  3. Carolyn

    I’m glad that autumn is here. We went out to Millingtion this morning and the cotton fields are white and the bean fields are turning yellow. We have a storm on the way and it is warm right now but cooler weather is on the way. About me not being a animal lover, my mom said that nothing ever happen to me but if a dog started coming my way, I would try to climb up her and be very upset. I could live with one if I had to. Did you get the info about Debbie that I sent, if not let me know and I will send it again. We are off to Jennifer’s Monday for a short visit. The trip will tire me out but I want to see the kids. I hope that Matt is doing well, please tell him hello for me. You all have a great week-end and hugs and love to all.

    • Thanks Carolyn, I did send the message on to Eric. I think there are some people who are just inherently afraid of, or averse to, dogs. A lot of people who didn’t particularly like dogs would say, after visiting with Pasha, “I would get a dog if he would be like this one.” I would always imagine that they just hadn’t really had the chance to be around a dog that had lived inside with humans all of his life :-). You mentioned a storm – those Memphis thunderstorms were unlike any I have ever experienced elsewhere. The only time I have ever hidden inside a closet with my kids was during a particularly violent storm there when they broadcast a tornado warning. The sound was truly amazing and on some level, even though I was frightened, I was also fascinated. Hope you have a nice visit with your family – I’ll give Matt and Jeff your love and same to you all!

  4. Raynard

    Thank you Julia.Its in the 80s in October. Now I’m singing,let it snow lol.I love fall get to do a lot of baking and enjoying scenery .You, Jeff and the family are always in our prayers.yes our little dogs too lol.From Raynard of the Upper Room

    • Raynard, I am so happy to see you here! I think I would recognize your writing even without you telling me it was you – you are always full of smiles and laughs! I need to get back over to UR and catch up on how everyone is doing. Thanks so much for visiting here, and for saying hi!

  5. Sheila

    Julia, here in Garden City, we look forward to the tourists thinning out and the quiet of the fall days. The traffic is less, the fireworks have ceased, and we reclaim our beach! I must add that I hadn’t thought of Millington,Tn. in a long time. Bill was stationed there in 1968 at the Naval Air Station. I hope you’re having a good weekend.

    • Hi Sheila, we lived in Memphis while Jeff went to dental school 1980-84, and also lived there for 18 months after his first tour in the Air Force. I’m glad you will have your town to yourselves now; I always enjoy Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and DC much more in the “off seasons” than when the tourists are around, although I appreciate their interest in the area. I always thought it would be so nice to live on the beach in cold weather. The move Julia had a lot to do with my romantic notions of what that would be like, with the scenes of Lillian Hellman typing away to the sound of surf outside her window! That’s a old movie but if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. This weekend has been very nice for us, quiet and low stress. Next week will be tougher; Matt’s pre-op and cardiac catheterization. So we needed to rest, and that’s mostly what we’ve been doing. Enjoy what remains of the weekend! 🙂

  6. Having just returned from the fair state of California, I can see why you would miss it so much. The mild climate is perfect for almost year round flip-flops and outings without jackets, even after dark. I enjoy snow at Christmas for the decor opportunities and ambience but then by May, it can get to be a bit much. Spring is messy here because of all the sand and salt we use on the road over winter. Summers can be awesome if you have air conditioning, there’s so much to do in Edmonton. I actually have to say, the first days of fall is probably my favourite time. If we’re lucky, are flower pots are hanging in there, the evenings are cool and feels great to sleep with windows open. The mosquito’s are long gone and with the kids back at school, the pool isn’t crowded…LOL.

    • Your comment reminded me of our first year in Dayton, Ohio – when Jeff first got out of dental school — and we had never seen any REAL snow. It was exciting at first, but by March I was thinking, “HELLO??!! When do we get to see the ground again??” And yes, the salt on the roads was corrosive and we had to get our cars rust-proofed at Ziebarts. But I learned to drive in the snow and ice (with a few harrowing mistakes that luckily ended safely) and other than getting caught in a blizzard one night as I was returning from my 1:00 a.m. shift at USAir, it wasn’t too scary. The next time we were in Tennessee and saw everyone rushing to stockpile groceries when a few flakes blew through the air, Jeff and I shared a good laugh. Wow, your pools stay open in fall? Our community pool here in Alexandria closes immediately after Labor Day, even though we usually still have HOT weather in store (as we did last week).

      • HA, no outdoor pools after labour day here either Julia! Most of our Public pools are inside. There’s a great pool 3 blocks away at a college. Some hotels in the Mountains have outdoor hot tubs in the winter which is fun. We’d ski all day and then head to the tub. Fun to roll in snow and jump back in the tub….your body goes all pins and needles. Then again I was in my 20’s, might not be fun now, LOL.

        • That sounds like great fun to me. I still sit in my sauna every single night we’re at our York home. I like the hot/cold experience and I’ve read a number of studies that say it is good for mental health and moods. Such studies say that one reason exercise provides anti-depressant effects is the process of heating up and cooling down. So going from skiing to a hot tub would do the same thing, I would imagine.


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