Two Faces of Autumn

To watch the way leaves blow across my yard is wish fulfillment. A fairy tale romance that is so easy to write with a simply gaze through the window, while wrapped in a warm and fuzzy autumn embrace.

But the reality, dark is coming. Though I’m no longer afraid of the dark, late autumn requires a lot of effort, if I hope to preserve some light. Thus, taking command of my thoughts and behaviour becomes a priority. A goal I crawl to, if I must. Because true beauty is the glow buried deep inside that illuminates my soul.

Leaf peeping, as informal as it may sound, is a bittersweet journey I undertake to the true heart of autumn. Not only to watch leaves fall but to gather them up and feed my garden. It is a vacation I owe to myself.

Leaf peeping in my backyard

note: The micro-essay is in response to the prompt, October is Coming. October is my birthday month, and I always feel all sorts depending on where I am, physically and mentally. But one thing that remains constant is that I’m at my happiest when I (create) write. Writing is my instant vacation.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. I agree that watching leaves blow is wish fulfilment, Khaikya, and I love the name you’ve given it: leaf peeping; but here the rain has anchored all the leaves, clumped them together, made them slippery. I love autumn’s embrace, but not the imminent darkness. I’m dreading the clocks going back.

  2. Khaya, yours is the first I’m reading simply because I’ve heard your voice through all the seasons. I love the theme of a working vacation October presents to you; leaf peeping while nurturing the little light left- to illuminate from within. Perfect prose. Now I’m off to breakfast!😊

  3. I love October, it’s my fave Autumn month because of the colors and Halloween! But November is another matter. Let’s hope the darkness treats us well this year <3

  4. What a great picture, the secret is to see beauty in all seasons. In Australia we are in Spring and hoping for a little warmth after a longer that usual winter (mild though our winters are).

  5. How I love those closing words! They are the perfect answer to offer to people who ask me why I write while life is too busy: writing is relaxation and stress, it’s living and dying through ink, it’s growing… writing is everything.

    Love your relationship with October and with the dark.

  6. Thank you Kim for reading. Autumn is such a beautiful and peaceful season but the imminent dark, which starts in November here, is always a dread. We also have rain almost every day, and so autumn advances. That’s why it’s so imperative to enjoy these colourful and bright days, they don’t last.

    Leaf peeping or peeper, according to Collins Dictionary is an informal American term. Maybe my American friends here can attest to this. 🙂

  7. Darkness has its own rewards as everyone who ventures into it (or crawls into it) knows.

  8. I can relate to October being a time of both magic and melancholy. I’m a warm weather girl myself, and I need to go out of my way to get extra light in the dark time of year. But it’s hard not to be at least a little charmed by the changes going on. And the cold is a great excuse to get an extra cup of tea.

  9. Hi Viv! You’ve made me smile, and hope you had a wonderful breakfast. 🙂 I also love to hear that you’re still hearing my voice, and especially through all seasons. Thank you for supporting my books.

    Autumn, indeed is a working vacation for me. When it’s all dark outside, I escape to the imaginary world; a place that helps nurture the little light left.

  10. Lovely to see you around, Suvi. October is a real a beauty but glides past like a swan fleeing from winter. 🙂 We can only hope for a gentle November. Enjoy the season! <3

  11. But it is magical Jae, and enticing as it’s the last chance to visit Finland, if one is scared of winter. 😀 Thank you for popping by!

  12. November is my favorite month because I was born in it but I love October as the beginning of the cool season. I love the picture you have posted. Wring poetry in the fall is the most delicious of all.

  13. Thank you, Robin. You know my heart is split into two. And so I delight for the Spring in the south as well, even though winters are not so harsh. Hope your buttercups are blooming already. Happy Spring!

  14. I often joke that I’d end up in a mental institution, if I didn’t write. But during the dark autumn and long winter seasons that’s no joke at all. Writing is everything! And you’ve beautifully and precisely summed how I feel about it. Thank you, Maga!

  15. You are so right, autumn is a charmer especially October with the colourful display and the cosy indoors. And tea is always a great accompaniment to a great book. 🙂

  16. I hope it helps your soul glow bright. The leaves and temperature have finally started to fall here.

  17. I love this determination to not succumb to the darkness. I must be part bear, as I love winter – cozy indoor weather, when I hibernate, moving between desk and couch……….thankfully, we have writing and online connections so we dont get too much cabin fever!

  18. I love the determination to not succumb to the darkness. I must be part bear as I love winter, and hibernating. I move from desk to couch. Thankfully we have writing and online connections so we dont get too much cabin fever!

  19. I have always loved October for some reason 🙂 and your words help me understand why. This is utterly beautiful and wise! ❤️

  20. I know the darkness all too well… and finding the joy in the leaves sounds like the balm I would need as well. This weekend has been so very cold, but we have still tried to be outside as much as possible… the only way up in the north.

  21. I can relate to the dread of the coming cold months. Even though I live in a sub-tropical and mostly sunny and warm year round place, for some reason the winter can bring some anxiety to me. I do appreciate your determination to enjoy the autumn while it’s here though. Lovely piece here.

    Gayle ~

  22. November has its beauty. I used to enjoy it while I was still living in South Africa as the weather is just ideal for beach holidays, whale-viewing, and so on.

    But November in Finland is one misery month because is the darkest of all. The lack of light with short days and long wait before the first snowfall is taxing physically and mentally.

    All is not lost though, I have poetry. And writing it in the fall is one of the best things. 🙂

  23. I hope so too, Rob. With leaves and temperature is the same here. I guess the season it’s called fall for a reason. 🙂

  24. Thank goodness for writing and online connections, otherwise cabin fever would thrive more especially with all the darkness. Happy hibernating and writing!

  25. there is something almost spiritual about “gathering up the leaves”

  26. That is a huge compliment, dear Sanaa. Because put into words what I love about my birth month is not always easy. Thank you! <3

  27. I’m glad you can relate Gayle. I guess change of seasons does bring some kind of anxiety, until we fully immerse ourselves in the moment and find beauty in each season. Thank you for your visit and reading. Much appreciated!

  28. Oh, yes! We all need that balm from the falling leaves to protect against darkness. It’s certainly getting colder here as well. But as you say, being outdoors or out in the wild is the only way here in the north. And on that note, let me put on my boots and go breath fresh air. 😀 Thank you for you visit and reading, Björn!

  29. Now that you mention, Margaret. When I wrote the piece I was thinking more about the natural cycle; dead leaves feeding the soil for new growth in spring.

    I could have been inspired by Robert Frost’s wrote a poem called Gathering Leaves. 🙂

  30. Khaya, first happy birthday to you this month! May the day shine with joy!😀

    Intense and beautiful reflections on this bittersweet month and as the darkness comes it is important to harness the light. I love your sentence which captures this with great veracity and spirit. “Because true beauty is the glow buried deep inside that illuminates my soul.”

    Enjoy leaf gathering in the most wonderful of backyards! 🍁

  31. I love the Autumn and watching the leaves fall. The other day a breeze swept through my yard, and I watched leaves rain down for about five minutes afterward. I actually enjoy all the seasons, except early spring (here we call it Mud Season, and it’s nightmare!) The leaf-peepers are a real thing here in Vermont, they tend to block the roadways and drive everyone crazy… but it IS pretty!

  32. What a lovely surprise to see you around! Many thanks for birthday wishes, I count my blessings everyday. 🙂

    I’m also glad you found my piece relevant, and I agree it’s imperative to harness that light from within, especially during this season.

    Thank you, Annika. I can’t wait to hear what creative projects you’re working on right now. 🙂

  33. I can imagine leaves raining down. What a delight to be able to experience this beautiful phenomenon. Yeah, we have a mud season here, too and I also do not like one bit because it makes everything look dirty. But do enjoy this beautiful season!

  34. That is such a beautiful image.
    I always enjoy October, the Autumn colours are wonderful and although the evenings are beginning to get darker … we still have a few weeks to wait until November.

    The grand-children love October because of Halloween 🙂

    All the best Jan

  35. Leaves are starting to fall where I’m from and the temps are already dropping. Leaf peeping is certainly good even if it’s bittersweet given what follows afterwards in the weather.

  36. Oh, Khaya. That middle paragraph is so stirring. Cuts so beautifully, and brilliantly, to the heart of it. Thank you for your humanity and for sharing it so we know we are not alone.

  37. Beautiful. So well expressed, Khaya! (p.s. I’m on book tour this autumn and only blogging sporadically. But how nice to read your lovely post!)

  38. Like the autumn season itself, your words are a work of art Khaya. “Because true beauty is the glow buried deep inside that illuminates my soul.” 🧡🍁🍂

  39. Autumn is a favourite for many. Pity the beautiful and bountiful part always feel short-lived. Now we are approaching the darkness with late autumn. Once again thank you Steph for your kind and encouraging comment. <3

  40. Yeah, it is a pity but it’s a great reminder to be mindful and live in the moment else they slip away so fleetingly.

Do leave a trace!