The coming of autumn is stapled with stability


Serena Thiede

The ghost trend of 2020 that I did on my birthday interpreted how I felt last fall—isolated and invisible—which is a stark difference from this year.

The official arrival of autumn may be marked on a calendar, but it can typically be seen in the world around me. I would love to say that the changing of the leaves from chlorophyll breaking them down to their natural shades of carotene, anthocyanins, and tannin pigments signals fall to me. With Michigan’s odd seasons and weather, this conversion never marks the beginning of my internal feelings of fall. 

Instead, I can see the change in minuscule bugs that typically hear a scream when they are spotted: stink bugs. When the weather starts to cool, stink bugs start swarming my house. They sit outside on the walls searching for a way to enter the warmth. Although I don’t particularly enjoy these insects, they show me signs of fall and remind me of what I was scrambling to do four years ago. At that time, I was working on my sixth grade insect collection at Goodwillie. My friend gave me a stink bug that she had caught so I could use it in my collection. I’m glad that I didn’t have to catch it even all these years later. 

I know that fall has come when I look out my bedroom window to see still waters. In the summer, the lake that I live on is crowded and is always crammed with boats speeding by. On typical workdays, the slow boats become immersed in the wildlife. Geese, ducks, and swans make all the noise that they possibly can. Now when I look out my window, I see calm waters. The most boats that I ever see at one time is three. The birds have started to leave and fly down south. I can hear them loudly when I open my windows and see them fade into the distance. 

Some relationships and traditions stay, but others blow away in the wind like leaves that have fallen to the ground.

I see squirrels and rabbits collecting nuts and any other food that they can find in my backyard. My three chickens squawk when they see them. The rabbits and chickens have formed a bond over the summer; they enjoy sitting together with the fence in between. As winter comes, this will stop. The chickens will be enclosed and the rabbits will have to stay warm. The rabbits have been preparing—they know of the season that is approaching.

Nature always knows when fall is coming. The animals know what to do to prepare for the cold months ahead and the trees form their abscission layer. The nature around me is prepared for the same thing that happens every year. I am not.

Every year, my whole life changes. I am not in the same position now as I was a year ago, much less four years ago when I was collecting and killing bugs. There is no stability. Some relationships and traditions stay, but others blow away in the wind like leaves that have fallen to the ground. My birthday will always stay the same—it’s one of the few autumnal things in my life that will. Everything else is a gamble. I wish I knew that it could stay. I crave the happiness that I am feeling right now to carry through this season and to feel the same next year; in fact, I hope it stays for many years to come. But it might not, and that’s just something I’ll have to get used to until my fall is as stable as the marks of autumn in the world around me.