I grew up in tropical Asia, just north of the Equator, and therefore cold weather meant the mercury dropping to around 20C.
Nature had given us just two seasons — the monsoons and the summer, with the temperature variations minimal. Most of the time, it was hot, or just rainy and humid.
Sure we had the spring, but as romantic as we tried to make it by visualizing the blooming flowers and the morning dew, the springs just came and went without much of a variance in vegetation or weather. Fall again was more of a romantic notion — with songs comparing it with the days that have passed by.
But I have spent almost half my life in Europe and North America and eventually I will say that I have spent more than half my life, and then most of my life, outside of the tropical climate.
And here the differences are stark as in day and night. From the 30-plus C of the summers to the sometimes minus 30 C in the winters. The experience of differences is vivid, showing how humans and the natural world transform themselves completely during the course of the year, and year after year.
The spring and the autumn, or fall as it is called in North America, play a major role as transition periods. Spring is the cushion between the winter and the summer. It is the time when many plants wake up from their winter slumber and spring to life. The barren branches of many trees turn luscious green and full.
The fall or autumn is, in essence, the transition period, from the hot summer to the bone-numbing cold winter. It helps those living in the farther north of the equator time and space to prepare for the winter. The air is not hot and suffocating anymore; rather it gets chilly and then cold and crisp enough to prick on the face like a needle. The days become shorter and lugubrious grey while the nights take over. There is the fragrance of decaying matter. If you are lucky, you can even smell a wisp of burning wood from those old furnaces.
In some parts of the world including Canada, fall is also a time to enjoy the nature in its colourful brilliance as some deciduous trees start shedding their leaves. The process of the mature leaves slowly disconnecting themselves from the womb and starting the journey towards the earth takes just weeks, but those few weeks between late summer to mid-autumn is an adventurous time for the human eye and the sense.
By the end of August, one can note the first tinge of yellow in some leaves and they gradually start changing colours. In their peak maturity, some are radiant red. And then by late October it is time for them to cut off all their ties to the tree and fall. When the winds are strong, they dance in chorus as they fall towards the earth.
Perhaps no other person has studied this phenomenon carefully as the nineteenth-century US writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. In his seminal work Autumnal Tints, Thoreau writes with a biologist’s and poet’s view of the changing colours.
And every year, millions of people in Canada and the USA, and even in countries such as Japan, travel around to see what Thoreau found so tantalizing. Fall Colours and Leaf Peepers are some of the terms associated with this hobby.
Over the years, I also used to take a journey across the county roads of Ontario to witness the changing nature. Lately, I have also come to realize that one does not have to travel far and wide to capture the nature; it is just around the corner.
Here are some photos of fall colours that I had taken over the past few years.