automne malade

Automne malade et adoré. 

It’s the first line of a poem I love. Apollinaire describes autumn as “sick and loved,” lonely and liminal. He writes:

“how I love this season, its murmurs; the fruits that fall with no one to gather them; the wind and the forest crying all their tears in autumn, leaf by leaf”

(my loose translation/interpretation)


Every year I have lived in a place where fall takes over the wind, trees and air, as if by magic, and here in central France it’s no different. I watch with the joy of a child: pure exhilaration as the world explodes in color and light.


But it has always been a complicated season for me. It’s a dying season, an annual reminder of change and mortality. It is limited, transitional: unlike summer, it’s impossible to lose myself in the illusion that these days will last forever.


Mixed with my delight in the bright new reds and brilliant golds is a sense of dread. I fear that constant cloud cover that seems to sit on my very soul. It’s here now. The days are short and the light is gray, no discernible change between 8 am, noon, 3 pm…it’s only just before 6 that the gray changes to black. Every year around this time I find myself reading bleak dystopian novels and wondering how the days can drag on but pass so quickly à la fois. 

I thrive on excitement, newness, sunlight. This time of year: weeks built for existential poetry, for hiding under the covers–brings an agonizing pause.

It feels wrong sometimes, this slowing pace of la vie quotidienne, but it is natural, good. I’d do well to remember that, and I try.

I look for little things: surprise sunsets on my walk to work, the contrast of red roses and dead leaves, spiderwebs holding dew. The strange, stark beauty of bare trees who have wept away their leaves.


I burn crème de marron candles and make soup and go on heart-pounding runs, returning just as the sun sets. I watch French movies with my brilliant roommate and order (regrettable) foie gras pizzas.

I savor autumn even as I dread what it brings. It’s malade, adoré. It’s temporary, I remind myself. Just like anything else.