Writing the seasons: In praise of autumn

Writing the seasons: In praise of autumn

Writing the seasons: In praise of autumn

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They fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, go;
Lengthen the night and shorten the day;
Each leaf speaks to me of bliss
Fluttering from the autumn tree.

Emily Bronte

I watch the leaves swirl from the branches of a tree, fall to the ground, their movement stops me in my footsteps and makes my heart leap. The changing of the seasons has inspired writers for centuries and no longer than Autumn or Autumn, which has been captured in all its intensity and power in the pages of literature. Autumn, the “season of fogs and sweet fruitfulness”, as Keats wrote.

There is something proactive in the beginning of autumn, with his return to school, the new mandate, the new pencil case, the new Prime Minister vibe. “Life starts all over again when it gets sparkling in the fall,” said F Scott Fitzgerald. Yet there is also a sadness at the end of next year, as spring and summer pass – and many pieces of literature are imbued with melancholy.

Related: Writing the seasons: nature writing for autumn with Anita Sethi

Writing about the seasons is a wonderful way of feeling time, being grounded in time and place, crucial skills of any writer. It’s also a great exercise in observation and sensitivity to change – the seasons are a gift to the nature writer and the next masterclass in my nature writing series Write the seasons will inspire attendees to tune their eyes, ears and pen to the beauty of nature in autumn both in cities and in the countryside, to the season that brings such a feast to the senses and fuels creativity. “Isn’t this a real autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – which brings life and nature into harmony, ”said George Eliot.

Autumn has inspired writers over the centuries to some of their most beautiful words, with the glory of its colors, the smell of roasted chestnuts, the pleasure of munching the leaves during an autumn walk. How glorious it is to take an autumn walk as the world turns color, a welcome respite in a turbulent world. The great outdoors and the natural world in autumn are celebrated in much of the literature on the season. “I can’t bear to waste something as precious as the autumn sun staying indoors. So I spent most of the daylight hours outdoors, “said Nathaniel Hawthorne. And what the bounty writers discovered outdoors. As Wordsworth wrote:” Wild is the music of autumn winds in the woods. faded “.

The love of leaves obviously leaves its mark: all sizes, shapes and colors spin through the pages of books: “And all the lives we’ve ever lived and all future lives are full of trees and changing leaves … Virginia Woolf mused. It is a season loved by writing for all ages: “It’s the first day of autumn! A period of warm chocolate mornings, and toasted marshmallow evenings and, above all, jumping among the leaves! ”, Declared Winnie the Pooh in Pooh’s Grand Adventure.

In some passages we see the writer becoming nature. “Delightful Autumn! My own soul is married to it, and if I were a bird I would fly across the Earth in search of the next autumns ”, wrote George Eliot. If I were a bird… imagining ourselves in the perspective of wildlife and elements of the natural world is also a great technique for the writer, an exercise in empathy, in the virtues of acquiring a bird’s eye perspective. I also love a verse from the poet Rumi: “Be like a tree, drop dead leaves”. Be like a tree – yes.

Autumn can make us feel a whole palette of emotions. Sure, it’s a season of finals: “Autumn shows us how good it is to let things go” – unknown. A season of loss and letting go, it is also a season of harvest, fullness and abundance of harvest. There may also be – with the impact that the climate crisis is having on the weather and the seasons – an underlying anxiety; the first leaf I saw fallen and tanned this year was still summer, a hint of autumn to come, also a sign of somewhat disordered seasons.

As we get into the season and all those leaves have fallen, some writers look tired of autumn, almost ready for the next season: “A wind swept away the rain and swept away the sky and all the leaves, and the trees stand. I think I’ve known autumn for too long too. “- ee cummings.

Whatever your feelings for fall, it’s a great season to try and get down on the blank page. As Wallace Stegner said: “Another fall, another page turned”.

It is good to remember that autumn is a season for planting bulbs, to give new life to the soil before it freezes, it seems to sow hope – something to be expected when a long and harsh winter bites, that the leaves grow back.

Anita Sethi is a nature writer, award-winning author of I Belong Here – A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain. Her online masterclass Writing the seasons: Nature writing for autumn will be held on Thursday 22 September 2022, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm BST

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