Autumn was his favourite time of year, not simply for its changing colours but for the crispness in the air and the sharpness of the light. As the leaves fell the landscape revealed itself, like a painting being cleaned or a building being renewed. He could see the underlying shape of things. This was what he wanted, he decided: moments of clarity and silence.
—James Runcie, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
This is the time of crisp, cloud-edged mornings and golden afternoons, of apple cider at the farmers’ market and velvet twilights falling all too soon after work. Harvard Yard is a welter of green and gold, and the small, brave maple trees that always turn first have already flamed out in crimson and then lost most of their leaves.
Across the Yard, there’s a golden tree I love to sit under. For now, it’s still warm enough to bask in the dappled sunshine, wearing a coat but not shivering – yet.
Some still-green leaves, edged with brown, are made beautiful by a trick of the light: they glow gold when the afternoon sun shines through them.
I love autumn even while I dread winter: I do not look forward to the too-short days, biting winds and heavy snow that turns into gray slush. But I love this ripening time, the spires of Cambridge standing out in sharp relief against the deep, deep, infinitely blue skies.
As often as I can, I steal away from the computer, with its stacks of emails and insistent to-dos, and walk among the trees, turning my face up to the light.
As the leaves fall, I will watch, like Sidney Chambers above, for the slow revelation of the clean lines of buildings and bare branches. Late autumn has its own spare, muted beauty – though, for now, I am glorying in every vivid leaf and streak of golden light.