The Colors of Autumn Break My Heart


It is fall at Toad Hall. The summer growth of weeds has slowed down and I can finally get ahead of them. The lawn no longer needs to be mowed every five days. The peaches have all been harvested and either eaten or frozen. The sunflowers loom at every corner, many still in flower but others laden with their massive ripening seed-heads that will feed many birds this winter.

The day-old chicks we brought home in April began laying eggs a week or so ago. Although they are glorious looking birds, we all agree they are the stupidest flock of chickens we have kept in more than a decade of keeping chickens. Their eggs are on the small side, but at least a quarter of them have been double-yokers.

The raspberry bushes are heavy with ripening fruit. I join the bees, wasps and yellow jackets companionably enjoying the bounty. They are too intent on the fruit to mind me, and as long as I make sure there are no insects before I pluck a fruit or pop it into my mouth, I am safe from their natural eager defensiveness. Some years I have had raspberries into November, as long as the weather does not turn too cold before then, but we will see what this year brings when it brings it.

The large mounds of chrysanthemums are beginning to hum as they reach their peak glow of color. In about July I always trim them back, in order that they don’t get too leggy in the fall, and right about now they are just magnificent. I need to get out and protect them by spraying deer repellent or I’ll likely get depredated one night.

What are the colors of autumn? They are the sharp, bright, painful colors of change, and slowing down, and aging. There is a Japanese maple growing at my neighbor’s that I love madly, and each year it pains my heart with the beauty of its leaf-change. In winter, the elegant tree needs no foliage to personify beauty as it raises its arms against the frost, but the brave defiance of its symphony of color in the fall has brought me to tears.

Roses in June are the natural course of things, and are sweet and delightful and innocent. Roses in late September come unexpectedly on overgrown vines of spotty leaves that need to be deadheaded and cut back, and so they encourage and inspire. “Not dead yet!” they cheerfully proclaim. “You thought that hot, hot summer did me in, but I’m still here!”

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There are 12 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    • #1
  2. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad

    I don’t know that I would argue that they are the fairest of all — June roses are really quite spectacular! — but fall roses do have a poignancy that the spring roses lack. 

    Nice song, Arahant, thanks.

    • #2
  3. KentForrester Coolidge

     Very nice piece, Mrs. Toad. You do have a way with words.

    • #3
  4. El Colonel Contributor
    El Colonel
    @El Colonel


    • #4
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    I am greatly enjoying the variety of Autumn experiences expressed in words and wonderful photographs this month.

    This post is part of our Group Writing Series under the September 2019 Group Writing Theme: “Autumn Colors.” October’s theme is “Trick or Treat!” Treat yourself to a post, nothing tricky about it. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Very beautiful, Mama Toad–the photos and the post. Thank you. Glad to see you, too.

    • #6
  7. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret

    Can’t decide if your words or the photos tugged most at my heart.

    Thanks so much for brightening my day.

    • #7
  8. Annefy Member


    I loved your line about the stupid chickens. A dear friend lived in WY for five years and kept chickens for a bit. She finally got rid of them; she told me “I have done nothing but take care of those damn chickens and be nice to them, and every time they see me they run away in horror”.

    I think she just couldn’t take the rejection anymore. 

    • #8
  9. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad

    Annefy (View Comment):

    I think she just couldn’t take the rejection anymore. 

    That would bug me too. These chickens happily run to the fence when I come over, and then stand there or even more annoyingly, walk right over the delicious kitchen scraps I’m sharing with them. They’ll peck my fingers and completely ignore the delicious pepper insides or grapes. 

    My son found one attacking his muck boot this morning. I think she’s the low chicken in the pecking order and was trying to find someone to pick on.

    They’re pretty, but they’re dumb. I remember a song from my college days, “I like ’em big and stupid! I like ’em big and, real dumb.”


    • #9
  10. Shauna Hunt Coolidge
    Shauna Hunt

    Your post is wonderful! If that’s what Autumn tastes like, it’s delicious! The description of the raspberries made my mouth water. I have a tiny raspberry patch and I love eating them straight from the bush. Mmm!

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member

    The dahlias are especially pretty this year. I enjoy them all through the fall. I sometimes have some on my Thanksgiving table.

    Beautiful post for all of us still-gardening-in-autumn gardeners. :-)

    • #11
  12. Locke On Member
    Locke On

    I’ve missed seeing you around here!

    Up here in Idaho, the raspberry season is nearly done.  I’m pruning out the canes that are finished, and we’re freezing the fruit to be brought out later and turned into syrup or jelly.

    • #12
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