But you knew

The Highlights conference center at Boyds Mills, Pennsylvania, October 2018–a nice mix of
coziness amidst gloomy weather, and challenges faced with camaraderie and hope.

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.”Ernest Hemingway

I don’t know whether this quote was always true for me, but it certainly has been so in recent years. I lost both my beloved Daddy and my one-and-only love Jeff in the early autumn, just a little over a year passing between their deaths. And my Mama’s September birthday reminds me of her death seven months after Jeff’s. Yet, even now, autumn probably is my favorite season. It is at least tied with springtime as the time of year closest to my heart.

Hemingway touches on why this may be. Despite the sadness of death and decay in the natural world, we know that this passage marks only a transition, not an ending. It is as if nature itself is reminding us that death never bats last. Even as we prune our shrubbery and rake up our fallen leaves, we imagine the blooms of April and the greening of the landscape that seems to return all the more quickly as the passage of time speeds up in our distracted, overly-busy era. Fall creates a respite, a time for clearing away and preparing for an unknown but inevitable renewal.

Meanwhile, the season’s sadness, which is no less acute for being predictable, does carry other consolations. The cooling temperatures remind us of mercy, and the abundance of harvest crops promises that our needs will be met. The rich hues of autumn dazzle before gradually fading, and the cold months beckon with holiday festivity and the coziness of hot beverages and home-baked goodies. We look forward to the weeks of lessened daylight as a trade-off that will give us extended hours for reading, crafts, sleep, or guilt-free time spent daydreaming of plans for the year to come.

Perhaps you, too, expect to be sad in the fall. If so, you have lots of company. May the solace of comforts tucked away in the coming months bring you the bittersweet but persistent joy of knowing there always will be a spring.


  1. Harry Sims

    Here undoubtedly is an example of God’s immeasurable Grace expressed by a second Millennial poet.

    The Sandalwood Tree

    The sandalwood tree shares its lovely scent
    with any who come near.

    God is like that.

    Does the tree ever think to itself,
    I am not going to offer my fragrance to that man
    because of what he did last night,
    or to that woman who neglected her child,or because of what we might have ever done?

    It is not the way of God to hoard.

    He is simply there,
    emanating freely,
    if we wish to grab a handful
    or fill the basket of the eye.
    — Hafiz

    • Harry, thanks for sharing this lovely poem. It reminds me of Matthew 5:45.

  2. Nancy Blevins

    Beautifully written, Julia!!

    • Thank you, Nancy! It’s a delightful surprise to see you here in the comments section. Love to you and your sons!

  3. Mickey Champagne

    I revel in the colors of fall and the wonderful scents in the breezes, and somehow, even as the earth, and all it’s growing things, descend into winter sleep, I am reminded by our bluejays and cheeky chickadees that there is more to come, and all will be renewed.

    • Mickey, when I got your comment I realized I don’t know much about chickadees. I looked them up and enjoyed their unbelievably cute photos, along with digital recordings of their song. I just love that the internet makes it possible to do such things. Isn’t birdsong one of the greatest blessings ever? It’s impossible for me to listen to the birds and not feel happier. Thanks for being here.

  4. Susan

    Julia, what perfect timing for the first day of fall. As you know, it’s a hot sunny day, but still there’s that “tinge” in the air.

    I’ve never had SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but for the last few years I’ve felt a reluctance to go out once it’s dark in the evenings. I have to push myself to go out to meetings, and am more likely to skip optional things. Not now, but more in Dec/January. I like your thoughts on the trade-offs; that’s a more positive way to look at things.

    I always start the pre-spring pruning of my roses on February 1st — a little bit per day. In my mind it is indeed something I look forward to as a reminder that spring is coming, and this has a good psychological effect.

    I’m sorry for the sad anniversaries.

    • Hi Susan, thanks so much for your presence here and your condolences. I need to mark my calendar to start pruning my roses on February 1. What a perfect way to get ready for springtime– by getting a jump on some of the tasks that start to pile up once it’s well and truly warm weather again. Speaking of which, yes, although it’s still quite warm in Virginia (even northern Virginia), there is something in the air that promises there won’t be any more truly HOT days. I find that I am growing more and more likely to want to stay home as I get older, and that’s never more true than in the winter months. I’m almost never out after dark unless I’m with someone else. Even so, when I push myself to go out, I’m almost always glad I did. But home is such a cozy place to be! Here’s wishing us both a beautiful, jewel-toned autumn with several weeks of that “just right” buffer between hot and cold.

  5. raynard

    Julia as I type, I realized I baked” 8″ cakes this month. Saturday I took Mary to a vegan festival and” it wasn’t bad. But I’m not ready to give up chicken yet. Your writing today reminded me of a post comment on the Upper Room. I mentioned the Apollo 8 moon mission where they read Genesis from the bible. Now the last comment was about me reading Kipling. Good news. Mary and I are planning a vacation to Orlando the week of Thanksgiving. We will be visiting some family and members of the Upper Room. Then going to Georgia to visit the grandkids. Video Call for Christmas can we put you on the list? I seen Christmas stuff in the Dollar Store already? Really lol

    • Wow, is that a record number of cakes in one month? I’m with you — I can be a vegan temporarily, but I wouldn’t want to live there. That memory of the astronauts reading from Genesis is one of my very favorite memories from my youth. Our family was gathered around the television watching it and of course, no one knew what was going to be read. Some years later, the captain of that flight, Frank Borman, would be my Daddy’s boss at Eastern Air Lines. Jim Lovell, also on that flight, was made famous in the movie about Apollo 13 (he was played by Tom Hanks) but you don’t hear much anymore about Bill Anders, who actually was the first to read in that historic broadcast. I think it is so totally cool that we can listen again to that broadcast on YouTube.

      Definitely a big YES on the Christmas Video Call. What part of November will you be in Georgia? If you will be in Atlanta at the same time we will, maybe we can meet up with y’all. We might even be able to talk Mike and Verie into meeting up with us. Yep, the holidays will be here before we know it. Just ask the Dollar Store if you don’t believe me. 😀

      • Wow, I had not heard that broadcast previously! I am so delighted that the reading was a full team effort.
        We, as humans, can do amazing things when we determine to cooperate and build on common ground.

        • Susan, I’m so glad you were able to listen to it! One of my favorite things about the internet is being able to listen to history being made, whenever we want and as many times as we enjoy hearing it.

  6. A profound reflection. My father left on his journey in autumn. The sun was moving lower in the brilliant blue sky and I heard the rustle of leaves as I left the hospital. Autumn gives me comfort for my heart of full of gratitude for the life that has been given…

    • It’s wonderful that you can remember the sky and the rustle of the leaves from that day. Even more wonderful that your heart is full of gratitude, which I am increasingly convinced is the answer to so many of life’s trials and sorrows. As the popular saying goes, “there is always something for which to be grateful.” A thankful heart is maybe the most life-changing trait a person can have. Speaking of which, I’m thankful you are here! ❤

      • I am very thankful I am here, too!!!

  7. Good morning, Julia,
    Yes, the hope we have in spring’s faithful return makes autumn far less dismaying than it certainly would be, otherwise!
    As you and Mickey discussed chickadees, it reminded me that the chickadee’s spring song is one of the things I look for each year as a harbinger that spring will someday come. Some years I’ve even heard one in the first week of January, and it cheers me, even knowing that the poor little thing must be delusional.

    • Wow, what a treat to hear the birdsong in January! Perhaps (s)he is not delusional, only stubbornly optimistic and impatient for the springtime. My kind of bird, that one.

  8. Very moving words Julia. Thank you for an excellent post. ❤️❤️❤️

    • You’re welcome, Suzette. Thanks so much for being here, and for your encouraging comment!

  9. Amen, Julia. Amen.

    • Thank you, Alan.

  10. Sheila

    Good Sunday morning from Willow Tree, in the “tin condo” as we enjoy the country setting, minus ocean breezes though. I am so glad that you can find hope and consolation in the fall season as it does bring much beauty before introducing the colder months. Colder, even cooler weather, seems somewhat hard to imagine as we are still having 90 degree afternoons here in South Carolina. I enjoyed reading the comments and replies with much good info. I will put “Trim roses” on my February calendar and know that you and Matt will enjoy the holidays in Georgia. I’m glad you have the wonderful memory of family listening to the Apollo 8 Christmas message. I enjoyed listening to that a few minutes ago. Well, my friend, this is fun but must move this body to other constructive things! 🧡🙏🏻

    • Hi Sheila, it is always fun to hear from you. I’m glad the weather is allowing you to enjoy the “tin condo.” Just think, before we know it we will be COLD and wishing for warmer weather!! But I can say truthfully that I don’t remember it ever being this warm in Virginia during the last few days of September. We are supposed to get a couple of days this week in the 90’s. In October? Hard to believe. No matter, there is plenty of ice in the freezer and an endless supply of tea for the Verandah. I can even bring out the old box fan if we need to, hee-hee. Hope you have a happy week!

      • Sheila

        Hi Julia. We are back at 428 and the ocean breezes are delightful, to say the least. Goodnight, my friend. 🧡😴

        • Sheila, I’m happy you are back safely. Enjoy the ocean extra for me! 🙂 ❤

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