Debbie Croft: Autumn days are a good time to slow down life's pace

November 16, 2012 


How to describe the makings of a perfect autumn day?

Comfy jeans and boots.

A hand-crocheted scarf hugging my neck.

Football games on Friday nights.

Corn mazes and farmers markets.

Sweater weather.


Harvest moon.

Crisp, multicolored leaves begging to be stirred up into the air before cascading back down to the ground.

Sailing on a swing under a kaleidoscopic leafy canopy.

A leisurely walk beneath a sky of bright blue.

Breathing in the scent of moist earth and wood smoke.

Henry David Thoreau said he would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to himself, than to be crowded on a velvet cushion.

Normally of late my life seems to run on fast forward. But on these blissful autumn days, I long to push the pause button. To let time stand still, completely suspended, as I wander ... skipping, strolling, sitting, lingering, and soaking in each riotous, blissful impression upon the senses.

Last month while spending three days in the pines, I found time to be still.

For a few uninterrupted moments, I stood on a balcony watching pine needles fall in the breeze. Far from traffic and city noise, I could actually hear the needles hit the ground. And the gentle wind ruffling the treetops.

It is during this time of year when I find in nature my favorite shade of red. A hue unlike any other.

It's not the vivid pinkish-red of spring blossoms; not the true red of summer's stars and stripes and fireworks; not the russet-red of fall foliage; nor the hue of cranberries or holly berries or deep-dish cherry pie. This color that captures my notice is a soft red infused with gentle touches of pink and brown. Warm, vibrant, splendorous.

There are reds whose siren cries demand attention. Some reds borrow too much of other shades, losing their true personality. And others are just pretending to be red.

This red is bright enough without being too bold, but not toned down to dullness. It is a red that is rich with luminosity and nostalgia. Like velvet draperies from a bygone era.

Every fall the tree in our back yard drops golden medallions. Some leaves, though, hang on until gold turns to red, becoming tinted in this flawless shade of autumn's glory.

They rest there on the ground. Instinctively I reach for them as to gather jewels or gold.

The color draws me, speaks my name, and beckons me to look more closely.

What color are you exactly? I muse. What is your name? How do I describe you? And after you are gone, how will I find you again?

Even as I collect bundles of leaves to bring inside for lining baskets, I realize the brevity of this season. Just as the bright greens of springtime fade into summer's haze, my autumn red will be washed away by winter's frosty rains.

This season spoken of by sages and poets through the centuries will once again become a memory.

But for now I will relish nature's burst of color in her final performance before slipping into dormancy.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." -- George Eliot

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at

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