On Being Surprised By Fall


A lover of summer’s lush greens,DSCN0493

I felt betrayed by the cherry trees

That began to drop yellow leaves

Some time over the Labor Day weekend.


Shocked at the sight, I looked aroundDSCN1991

And saw the ginkos had joined in. Their

Leaves, which usually fling gold to the

Autumn air after the oranges and reds


Have done a danse macabre in the gutter,

Displayed a suspicious tinge. The honey locustsDSCN1975

Confirmed my fears, some of their branches

Washed with bright ochre.


Not the fried brown edging of city foliage

In a dry August, these leaf guilder portend

A change of season. Perhaps the risingDSCN2009

Cricket chorus should have warned me,


But the usual emissaries hadn’t made their

Visits, leaping urgently on the kitchen floor,

Trilling their recitatives from secret hiding places.

Maybe they, too, had assumed a later fall, and


Were still polishing the lyrics of their seasonalDSCN2558

Opera when the curtain rose on a changed scene.

But here’s the thing. Maybe it’s not the timing,

Sooner or later than expected, but the reminder


To be prepared, hunker down, stock the pantry,DSCN2653

Gather the firewood, acknowledge the darkness,

That matters. Because just as there is high summer,

There is also February when only the evergreens


Stand cloaked in color, and if you had known,

DSCN0232You would have bottled the light, laid in a

Store of cheer, and woven a beautiful cloak

Of warm, soft yarns, large enough to share.




Luckily this year, I’m fully aware that fall is on the way, inexorably. Still, I hope to bottle a bit more light in the next few weeks before the equinox takes away any vestige of deniability.

This entry was posted in Community and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to On Being Surprised By Fall

  1. Sylvie G says:

    You still have time to make the most of the beautiful North American automns. So beautiful !


  2. Some lovely descriptions and images here, Lisa. I like the danse macabre


  3. Oh, I know how much you love summer and here I am calling it into being down at the bottom of the world which means it must leave you ……………. How thoughtless of me!! I hope you still have some weeks left though. Beautiful photos and images Lisa!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    You’ve well captured and acknowledged the signs!


  5. ardysez says:

    Lovely observations about autumn, and a very interesting window into your feelings and melancholy on the season.


  6. It has always fascinated me that different people have hate/love feelings about the different seasons. As soon as summer begins to show signs of fall, I begin to feel more alive, more upbeat, more ready to begin new things. It reminds me of that fad–was it back in the 1980’s?—when women were analyzing what “seasons” they were, in order to decide on their best colors for clothing, makeup, and home decor. By that analysis, you were either a summer, a fall, a spring or a winter, and should choose your colors accordingly. I didn’t really get into it, although I believe I learned somehow that I was a winter, should wear blues, purples, white, black, etc. There really is something to the temperamental preferences, I think, as well as the memories we associate with the various seasons. I hope you do get to “bottle a bit more light” in the next few weeks, and that the equinox brings a clemency of climate—especially for the people out west, but also in general for all of us.


    • arlingwoman says:

      Thanks. I think we all do have a favorite season. I never got into the color thing, as a friend of mine was always changing out her wardrobe based on some new consultant’s idea of colors she should be wearing. I like the clothes I buy and tend tower them out!


  7. reocochran says:

    The changing of seasons sometimes sneaks up on me, but this year I was like you. I noticed trees turning, leaves falling and the beauty in cooler skies with different thicknesses in clouds. Fog and chill on windows and air. I loved the unique way you described your vision of fall.


  8. KerryCan says:

    Are these your words and images?! It’s all wonderful, so perfectly capturing the subtle signs of the change that’s coming! Unlike you, I welcome autumn with eager arms but February . . . not so much. I love the last stanza of the poem, with the weaving imagery!


  9. LB says:

    Lisa, how lovely to finally be visiting your blog and to read such beautiful words and see such wonderful images. What a talent!
    I’m glad to read your comment to Kerry that you are ready for a seasonal change, though. I try to embrace them all and very much love the photography of winter (well, and of course fall!).


  10. jennypellett says:

    You’re a little ahead of us season wise – our leaves have yet to turn although there is now that autumnal chill in the air. Your pictures and words match perfectly and are a taste of things to come for us n the UK.


  11. arlingwoman says:

    We’re not there yet either inVirginia–just looking to start. Most of the photos are actually fromOctober. whew. Glad it doesn’t look that way yet!


  12. Robin says:

    Beautiful descriptions of the dark and light seasons. We still have plenty of warmth to bottle and save for the colder months. Should you need any, let me know. We’ll be in the 90’s again this week and I will gladly share. 😀


  13. arlingwoman says:

    I’ve been inIL for the long weekend and it has been in the nineties here as well. thoroughly enjoyable!


  14. Lisa, beautiful pics and prose as you ease into fall. It was the strangest day here. The light is changing and the days are suddenly, noticeably shorter, however it was 101 F.

    Is your garden going to sleep?


    • arlingwoman says:

      The garden was still going before Labor Day–squash, eggplant, okra, herbs, mostly. Tomatoes slowing down. Not sure there’s time for the winter squash to come in. The light sure is changing. Had to turn lights on when I got up this morning.


  15. Allison says:

    Lovely my dear cousin! Thanks for sharing 🙂


  16. starkwe says:

    I miss the bright leaves terribly! We get a little color here in Gainesville, but nothing like the riot I think of in the Fall.


    • arlingwoman says:

      I always wonder what the signs are of changing seasons in places where the leaves don’t turn. New plants coming up? Less growth? It’s not as far along here as it looks in those photos–most of which were taken in October, some in IL and the summer lake picture in Italy…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s