Turning Straw Into Gold

Life through a Buddhist lens

Autumn's Fullness and Beauty: Quotations and Photographs

The fullness of life in autumn: quotations and photographs with commentary.

Autumn is the season of contradictions. It’s often associated with the melancholiness of endings; yet it’s the season of harvest and thanksgiving, when we pause to count the blessings that have ripened from the seeds we sowed the rest of the year. Here are quotations and reflections to help celebrate this season (even though our friends in the southern hemisphere are in the midst of spring)...

Poplars in Aragon, Spain
Autumn poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter. —Nova Bair

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. —F. Scott Fitzgerald

By summer’s end, I’m as wilted as the plants around me. The first fall morning when I need to put on a wrap before going outside feels like a new beginning. The air is so fresh and crisp. It’s one of my favorite moments of the entire year.

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How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days. —John Burroughs

 

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been! —Percy Bysshe Shelley

With the extreme temperatures of summer having coming to an end, harmony is restored—the gentle wind, the cooler nights, the brisk but refreshing mornings.

 

No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring. —Samuel Johnson

To truly appreciate the present, we have to let go of the past. This means delighting in spring flowers while they last, but not expecting their scent to linger forever. When our minds are lost in thoughts about the past, we miss what this moment has to offer. Even if this moment isn’t as delightful as the scent of spring flowers, tasting whatever fruits it does have to offer brings with it a sense of peace and well-being with our life as it is.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. —Albert Camus

Try stepping outside and looking upon every leaf as a flower—even though a scentless flower!

 

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night. —Hal Borland

Like the Samuel Johnson quotation, this is also about being present for our life as it is. We can try to fashion every aspect of our experience to be to our liking and seek to have it stay that way—a tide that’s high and a moon that’s full—but it would be a futile mission and a recipe for disappointment and unhappiness because the universal law of impermanence will always have its way.

My sorrow, when she's here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane. —Robert Frost

These words remind me of a quotation I’ve shared before from Ann Packer’s novel, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier: “Lonely is a funny thing. It’s almost like another person. After a while it will keep you company if you let it.” As they walk the sodden pasture lane together, Frost’s sorrow keeps him company and helps him see the beauty in autumn rain and in the bare, withered tree.

"An English Autumn" Photo by Graham Ettridge
It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. —P.D. James

As a fan of P.D. James’ mysteries, I was thrilled to find a quotation from her that I could include. Her protagonist, Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, writes poetry. Perhaps it was from his lips that she had these words flow. And perhaps our British friends can explain why perfect autumnal days occur more frequently in memory than in life!

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 (Mary Anne Evans)

Eliot doesn’t tell us why her soul is wedded to autumn. Is yours? If so, why?

Falling leaves hide the path so quietly. —John Bailey

Reading this, I thought of the different ways I might try to hide a path, but none of them would be as quiet as leaves falling.

 

No spring nor summer hath such grace,

As I have seen in one autumnal face.

—John Donne

 

 

The one red leaf, the last of its clan,


That dances as often as dance it can,


Hanging so light, and hanging so high,


On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

—Emily Bronte

 

 

And lastly…

Autumn is a season followed immediately by looking forward to spring. —Doug Larson

I saved this for last so I could take it as a challenge to find winter quotations that will leave us thinking otherwise. I’ve got a few months to find them!

© 2013 Toni Bernhard www.tonibernhard.com

Thank you for reading this. My most recent book is titled How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow.

I'm also the author of the award-winning How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers (where you can find the Ann Packer quotation). 

Using the envelope icon, you can email this piece to others. You can also subscribe to my blog (see the choices below my picture). I’m active on FacebookPinterest, and (to a lesser extent) Twitter.

Toni Bernhard, J.D., is a former law professor at University of California at Davis. She wrote the award-winning How to Be Sick and, recently, How to Wake Up.

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