Earlier this year, I wrote about savoring on an early summer day, watching and hearing and smelling the glories of new life as it is emerging. Now it’s autumn and time for a different kind of savoring as leaves fall and trees become more and more bare.
It’s still a heady sort of savoring. There’s a special sharpness to it because it is so transitory and because it heralds the beginning of winter, a time of bareness and dormancy.
One day I walked down the hallway. In the room on the right, the sunlight was filtering through the crimson leaves of the Japanese maple outside the window, giving the whole room a soft pink glow.
Another day, the wind blew strongly, carpeting the driveway with yellow leaves. It was a sudden change, from a tree full of yellow leaves to bare limbs in just a few hours.
An especially good way to savor autumn is to go walking in the woods. We’re lucky to have many acres of woods behind our house with many kinds of trees. We’ve taken several walks this fall, watching the change from week to week. I made a conscious catalog of things that I was savoring:
- The crunchy sound of leaves underfoot
- The soft rustle of wind in the trees, followed in seconds by a rainfall of yellow leaves
- Looking up through leaves that looked like a stained glass window with sunlight coming through tiny panes of green, yellow, and golden brown.
- Finding a “green and burning tree” — with one side still green, the other crimson
- Crisp air that tingles on your skin
I picked up a number of leaves for my husband to photograph for me — to capture not only the mix of trees we saw, but also the different states of change and the range of colors.
Bryant and Veroff describe savoring as “not just the awareness of pleasure, but also conscious attention to the experience of pleasure” (p. 5). Perhaps that’s why it is so much easier to savor autumn than midsummer. At any given moment, I am aware that the view I am seeing, right now the sunlight coming through the last remaining yellow and crimson leaves at the back of my yard, will no longer be there in a matter of days, if not hours. There’s an urgency that makes it easy to focus conscious attention.
Bryant, F. B. & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.