The magnificence of an underwhelming autumn

Fall isn’t my season. It’s lovely, of course, but I’m always disappointed to see summer end and a little melancholy that the dark, cold winter is coming.

Still, this fall is tugging at my heart.

It’s not that it’s been extraordinarily beautiful. It’s that last week someone told me that we were in for a “meh” autumn color-wise because we haven’t had enough rain to make the colors pop.

That forecast reset the season for me.

Looking at the trees and the leaves through that lens, I find myself appreciating the simple beauty.

Maybe we aren’t going to have those breathtaking reds and golds and oranges.


Then I’ll appreciate the bits of color and crunch where I can. I’ll look for the sunlight coming through the leaves. I’ll admire the shadows that appear thanks to the late afternoon sun. I’ll marvel at the bits of beauty and not wait for some fantastic show in a couple weeks.

Somehow, I’m enjoying the season more knowing that these smaller encounters might be all we get. I am embracing the gentle reminder that there is beauty in each moment, even if it might be a little harder to find. There’s an elegance to that tree that’s turning brown without any magnificent show. There’s a wonder to the path littered with dented acorns. Even the green leaves that are falling without any change, there is a natural beauty there.

Change doesn’t always happen with fanfare. Some transitions come quietly, gently, subtly. Maybe there’s a little extra wonder when we almost overlook that evolution—in nature and even in ourselves. There are, of course, blessings in even the quieter, more ordinary moments around us.

Today I was thinking that maybe fall will come through in a grand and gorgeous way after all and throw me off. I’m sure that will be wonderful, too.

But I am finding joy in knowing that these little gifts of beauty might be the best the season has to offer. There’s something special there.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.