That golden light of fall

25 Oct

Everyone has their “season” – people say “I’m a summer girl” or “Spring is my thing” or “Give me winter” and of course “I’m a fall person.”  Your “season” influences your personal color palette, when you feel you’re at your best, etc. etc.

Growing up, I always felt myself to be a summer person – it’s when my birthday is, every summer as a kid was spent at the pool, on the golf course, on my bike, doing outdoor stuff all the time.  I was always one of those kids with a chocolate-brown tan and chlorine-bleached hair.

As I got into college, I began to realize, I’m really a fall person.  I feel energized by fall – it’s the starting point of so much – school, sports seasons, etc.  The cooler weather makes it better to be outside (now that I’m not a little kid with a local pool to go to every day).  Cold mornings are invigorating and warm afternoons are to be savored.  The trees turning make the world a technicolor dream for a few weeks in October.  Hearty, satisfying foods that smell up the entire house are the order of the day. Fire pits. Walks in the forest preserves kicking up leaves. Happy dogs outside, etc.

I married a “fall girl”.  Robin has always described herself as a fall person – her choice of colors trends to earth tones, which compliments her olive skin coloring and dark hair. She is not a big fan of heat and humidity (unless palm trees and sand are involved too). She also comes alive in the fall – it energizes her like no other season.

This morning is a spectacular “Indian Summer” day – it is supposed to be quite warm today, and while cool and crisp this morning, only a light jacket is required. Clear, bright and sunny.

I was thinking about what I like most about fall and I think I have figured it out – it’s the light. While I don’t think any of us like days getting shorter and shorter every day, there’s something about how the lowering sun angle makes the sunlight a nicer, more golden glow. Shadows are longer. The sun comes in the windows of the house more during the day. Sunrises are rosier and seem to last longer.  Sunsets are more orange and seem to linger longer.

Photographers know that “golden” low sun angle well. You need look no further than any Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for evidence of that – it seems like every shot was made at either sunset or sunrise. Designers would call this “color temperature” – the lower sun angle makes a warmer “color temperature” – more yellow, more golden. Less blue and less harsh.

The header shot on this blog is a great example of an early-fall sunset.  I shot that from my friend Professor Troutsteam’s sailboat on Lake Michigan in late September a few years ago. We went for a “sunsetter” sail – left the dock about 5:30 PM on a Saturday afternoon, and headed in about 7:00 PM. That incredible orange glow just doesn’t happen in mid-summer.

There is a Jewish angle to fall as well – it is the time of the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. You celebrate a new year beginning, you celebrate renewal. You take stock of your life, you make amends, and you atone for wrongs. We also “reset” the Torah every fall – the Torah (for those not “in the Tribe”) is the first five books of the bible, and in Jewish practice, you read a portion (called a “parshah”) every week in order from beginning to end.  You reach the end, re-roll it backwards and start from Genesis again.

Some would say spring is the time for renewal – the critters have their babies, the trees leaf out, the flowers bloom, the plants rise. For me, fall is when we are at our fullest. The harvest is in, the plants and all are at their fullest size. School is on, life is moving fast and forward.  Things are accelerating, not slowing down.

Regardless of if you’re a fall person like me, or not – enjoy the season. Get out and walk among the trees and leaves. Jump in a leaf pile. Gather with friends for a beer in the crisp air and sunshine. Attend a football game, Get up early for a rosy sunrise, and be sure to enjoy a sunset. Savor it.

As you were,


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