Falling for Fall

In seventh grade English class, one of our class assignments was to read S.E. Hinton’s 1967 classic novel, The OutsidersI would be lying if I professed to remember much of the plot of the book, but there is one scene that has stuck with me ever since.  When Ponyboy and Johnny are hiding out in an abandoned church, Ponyboy recites Robert Frost’s poem Nothing Gold Can Stay:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I have never particularly enjoyed poetry, and am certainly no expert on the subject, so it is hard for me to figure out why that poem continues to resonate with me.  Every year though, when the leaves start to change and the weather turns crisp and cool, I am reminded of it.  Maybe it is the perfect harmony of bright colors in fall, as if the trees are channeling every last bit of energy into one transient splendor before shedding their leaves for the winter.  Or perhaps it is the mountain air while hiking on fall mornings, so crystal clear that you feel as if a single restoring breath could propel you above the clouds.  Or the fact that fall represents a refreshing hint of the winter to come after an interminably hot and muggy Virginia summer, when it finally becomes cold enough to break out the sweaters, sip a mug of apple cider, and curl up in front of a wood-burning fireplace. All of these things make fall one of my favorite times of year, even more so because of the knowledge that perfect fall days are fleeting.  Perhaps it is true that “nothing gold can stay”, and the beauty of fall will soon give way to the dark, freezing days of winter, but that very fact is what makes the season so beautiful.  And Robert Frost forgot that the golds of fall return every year.


Fall in full swing on the grounds of UVA in Charlottesville, VA.


The Chapel at UVA


Fall colors in the afternoon sunlight


Driving in the Blue Ridge Mountains on a clear fall day


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