The romantic poet William Cullen Bryant called autumn “the year’s last, loveliest smile.” And on one of the many perfectly crisp, cool, brilliant fall days most of us are lucky enough to enjoy, with leaves crunching underfoot and cinnamon smells wafting from our ovens, the fall is just that—lovely.
There’s wistfulness in the mention of “last” in Bryant’s quote, an acknowledgement that the lush natural beauty that sprouted in springtime and burst into fruition in the summer is quieting down, headed toward the chill of the winter ahead.
But there’s also a sense of peace in the ending that autumn represents. Because the fall is such an elegant transition, such a colorful and beautiful ending that reminds us to marvel at the cycles of the natural world, I consider it to be the most positive season.
The natural changes of autumn—the spectacular show of changing leaves on display in deep forests and neighborhoods alike—mirror changes we experience in our own lives. Our routines change in the fall, whether you’re in a “back to school” season of life, easing back into a work routine after your summer vacations, or preparing to snowbird to warmer climes.
Navigating change is a challenge, but in the fall, our senses are flooded with cues to remind us that change can also be beautiful, worth pausing to savor, filled with pleasing moments that can sustain us through whatever the coming winter has in store.
The joys of fall truly saturate every sense. Our eyes take in the vibrant reds, oranges, yellows and waning greens of the trees. Our noses inhale the clean, fresh air mixed with the scents of newly-lit fireplaces and warming foods. Our bodies feel the soft comfort of longer pants, tops, loose scarves and shoes. The flavors of fall both excite and soothe our taste buds. And in addition to the much-anticipated sound of crunching leaves, our ears take in the voices of friends and family members who are back from summer adventures and ready to reconnect and reunite.
So autumn may be the “last” of the sunny seasons, but it is indeed something to smile about—something quite lovely.