Spice of Life: Fall teaches us change is inevitable, beautiful

For the past few weeks, I’ve been grateful to the French windows of an American country style house in Burr Ridge, a charming suburb near Chicago, where I’m being hosted by my uncle and aunt. All thanks to the season of fall which has constantly been changing the colour of trees, presenting every few days a new rainbow, proving so beguiling for the eyes. As the temperature continues to drop, so do leaves of several of them. Some have even become bare and my eyes label them as pieces of art.

These views almost daily galvanise me for a walk outside. Within the first few steps, I feel as if paintings of celebrated artists are scattered before me and even before I can hold my exhilaration, I find myself as a merry character in the paintings, fully absorbed in the world around. I pause to catch the colours, mostly shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. Two shades on a tree, surprise me more, as if the leaves have decided to take turns to bid adieu to the tree, which they once called home. Some leaves fall right before me, introducing me to their goodbye scene, and silently remind me of Henry David Thoreau’s words, “Leaves teach us how to die.”

Little would the fallen leaves ever realise, the beauty they exude even when on the ground. Some seem to have just fallen, others since many days. They end up weaving infinite colourful carpets, making every walk so memorable. As I walk, my ears can hear them talking to my feet, some of which are so boisterous and I rarely forget to pick those that seem to have just left their home, bathing my hands in their fragrance. Occasionally, I pocket them and they reach my bedside table or the newly adopted writing table.

During my wander, I also meet other nature lovers. They turn poetic while expressing the scene around and epiphanies unfold. “The fall clearly teaches us that change is inevitable and beautiful, too. So, why not embrace change, whenever confronted with it?” shared an elderly gentleman at sunrise hour, a time when light beautifully filters through the leaves, making them look even more beautiful. One afternoon, I met a young artist, capturing the beauty of the season on a large canvas. “Every fall, this is a must for me. Being among trees is so soothing for the mind,” he told me. I agreed, telling him excitedly about studies on the positive influence of natural surroundings, especially trees, on the mind.

I would believe without any research too for whenever I’m among trees, there’s a sense of calm. Positive thoughts come naturally and so do solutions for any problem.

With infinite trees flanking every road here, I don’t mind prolonging my walks and losing myself among them. One day, I went so far that I literally got lost. I was so engaged on the leafy path with natural umbrellas above my head! But with the help of an elderly couple, out for a walk with their little dog, I was no more lost.

Japan is one nation where the government has been encouraging citizens since the 1980s to lose themselves in a forested land for the health of their mind. Known as forest bathing, it was adopted by other countries, too. Due to the depression and suicide rate in urban Japan, the government launched it as a national mental health programme. It’s common among Japanese families to practise forest bathing at least once a week, leaving all tech gadgets at home. Ask the benefits and those who practise it come up with answers that can turn out to be poetic.

Nature truly inspires and heals us but do we offer it in return what it deserves, I wonder, touching the maple leaves on my writing table.

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The writer is a freelance contributor