Henry David Thoreau loved the natural world and held a deep respect for the organic changes brought by the seasons. This essay is a perfect read as fall sets in and we admire the multi-colored foliage. Thoreau enjoyed a good leaf-peeping as much as many of us do now, confused by his neighbors in Concord, Massachusetts, who went about their daily business without so much as a glance at the purple grasses or red maples.
In “Autumnal Tints,” Thoreau gives ode to these changes, likening the red and yellow leaves to ripe fruit that looks as sweet. Reading his descriptions as he admires the elms and maples and oaks, feels like a sigh. It is a text to slow down and sink into as many of us have the same feelings of awe when we look at the gradient of color that has appeared around us. From the reddening tree at the front of my neighborhood to the yellow leaves outside my office window, I feel autumn despite the way it so casually sets in.
“Their leaves are perfectly ripe. I wonder if there is any answering ripeness in the lives of men who live beneath them,” Thoreau writes. Fall reminds us to elevate ourselves and respect the world around, which offers beauty in its peaceful evolution.
Read Thoreau’s “Autumnal Tints” here.