image of a road passing through treesMost of us remember the abundance of fires throughout our Rocky Mountains, particularly in the fall of 2020. The East Troublesome Fire alone consumed 193,821 acres and destroyed almost 600 structures. Even from the flatlands, the view of the fire’s glow on the horizon was unmistakable. The winter after the fires, I went hiking on an “old friend” kind of trail –  predictable, comforting, with refreshing familiarity. Yet, the expected vibrant greens and earthy browns of overhanging greenery manifested as a scorched black, stark against the powdered snow. The sound of rustling leaves was replaced by the eerie creek of swaying timber: bleak and desolate but marvelously beautiful. Almost two years into nature’s recovery process, that same trail is lusher than ever. The remnants of black scars make the green even more breathtaking; the tree fall made room for rich undergrowth starring a sea of wildflowers and swaying grass. 

Seasons of forced rest and altered rhythms can feel desolate and dreary like the fire-marked wilderness. It often hits this time of year – fall is announcing its arrival. Barefoot evenings watching the sunset on warm pavement are changing their tenor. The cool twilight that once offered alleviation from the summer sun now invites layers, tea, and cozy socks. Vibrant days filled with warmth and flexibility fade into chill, leafless, strict schedules. Our summer cadences animated by long-lasting sunshine are pivoting as nighttime seems to follow with evermore haste. Fall can sometimes be accompanied by an austere, melancholic, sobering undertone, although we seem to forget that it is filled with enchantment and allure in its own right! 

The signs of fall’s nearness can leave us grasping with a reluctance to leave summer behind. Perhaps, nature’s cues hint that change is coming, and for the better – the beginning of the colder, leafless season often leads to vibrancy and growth like never before, forcing rest in the meantime. The grim decay of luscious foliage is pruning preparation – a readiness for the winter to lean into and long for spring. We are often the same; there is nothing motionless about human existence. Seasons in our lives are just as evident as in nature, even if not categorized tidily into four intervals and cleanly demarcated by dates. Nature’s reminder of natural pivot points may serve as a map for our own lives. Human beings are never stagnant. In fact, human “beings” is a misleading title; we are not “beings” but, perhaps, human “becoming’s,” ever leaning into something. We are always in flux. This fall, may we embrace the remainder of summer for all it is worth, though may we not fight the current upstream. Soak in fall for all its own beauty, await winter for the elegance it embodies, and know that as every leaf turns and falls, it is part of the vivifying cycle of regrowth. Enjoy fall without mourning summer and dreading what lies beyond; it is a beautiful thing. 

— Peace in the meanwhile, for fall is here, winter is a restful beauty, and spring awaits us with anticipation. —