By Leah Hasse
For the last three years, my family and I have lived on an island, which meant no seasons. We definitely weren’t whining about the year-round warmth, but encountering autumn again has brought back a nostalgia I was not anticipating.
Having grown up in Pennsylvania, I feel a strange sense of familiarity as the shift to cooler weather continues. While I haven’t called Pennsylvania home in years, and I do not expect to go back, the crisp air and the essence of the season has sent my mind hurdling back to times nearly forgotten.
It’s hard to name, but autumn seems to have its own scent. It is not the same as the fragrant flowers of the spring and summer, but it’s a powerful aroma that fills your mind’s eye with playbacks of strangely specific dates and times before you realize you’re even smelling anything.
They other day I went for a walk and felt like I was almost experiencing deja vu. It sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but I was amazed by how recognizable everything felt. While I was seeing a new place with my eyes, all of my other senses were lurched seventeen years into the past to a perfect afternoon spent outside with my brother and our neighbors’ Golden Retriever, Sadie.
If I closed my eyes, I could almost believe that I was transported to the past in some kind of seasonal time machine. As long as I kept my eyes shut, it was 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 9th, 2001. I could smell the chestnut husks and the last apples refusing to fall from their branches despite being half eaten by bugs. I could smell the oak trees and the maple trees and the evergreens. As the breeze picked up, I could even hear my brother laugh as I threw a stick for Sadie that the wind made hook too far to the left. I laughed too, and remembered the year. 2018. It almost felt like the universe decided to recycle a day because it was in perfectly good condition and I could get more use out of it.
When people cite their reasons for loving autumn, they’re usually taken by the fashion, the upcoming holiday season, or something related to pumpkins. But I think the draw is more than that. Autumn allows us to teeter between the doorways to the past and the future. It’s as though autumn is some strange force that warps space-time and allows fragments of ourselves to seamlessly jump back and forth through time.
While autumn is the beginning of the end of the year, with it comes the reflection and comfort of things held near and dear. We look inwards as we spend time with friends and family. We celebrate our accomplishments and set new goals. We mix tradition with innovation and it all just feels cozy.
Autumn makes me want to work and prepare, while also taking the time to slow down and enjoy the little things. Autumn both encourages me to look inward, while also looking out towards my loved ones. Autumn gives both solitude and community.
I’ve never considered autumn to be my favorite season, but no other season has filled me with such feelings of contentment and warmth. No other season has transported me to the past, while at the same time encouraging me to look towards the future.
Maybe one autumn, many years from now, my sons with go for a walk and the breeze and the scent will transport them back to their childhood in Germany.
Leah currently lives in Germany with her family. She loves everything related to the outdoors, and can often be found hiking or camping with her husband and two children. She enjoys traveling, studying languages, and taking random classes online to learn new skills. She hopes to use her writing to bring people together and to challenge biases surrounding motherhood.