Some Autumn Atmosphere and Reflection on the Little Things in Life

It finally feels like Fall might be here. Of course, living in San Diego, this isn’t saying all that much. It’s not the Fall that I grew up with in Denmark, with dark looming clouds, relentless wind and rain, and with the rare days of clear, crisp sunshine that reveal the colors of the changing season and invite walks in cute woolen sweaters and scarves. In my present time, Fall is more gentle. Sure, some leaves begin to change their colors and fall to the ground in happy piles, but the most notable changes are in the cooler temperature and the shorter days.

At the moment, little everyday things fill me with a quiet happiness. Like sharing a glass of wine with Paulus while he cooks, lighting candles when it’s dark, and happy snuggles in bed before a morning run. Many of these moments have to do with togetherness. But there are also elements of solitude that I enjoy.

Because of the changing season, it’s now dark in the morning when I get up. Trying not to wake Paulus, I slip out of bed as quiet as I can. I make a cup of coffee, and then I get to work. Graduate school, and probably most of academia, has such a curious conflict between how you’re evaluated and how it’s structured. There is a conflict, because our days are often filled with meetings and teaching, but the thing that we are primarily evaluated on is writing, which most academics’ schedules allows precious little time for.

So a couple of years ago, I started getting up early in the morning to write on my various academic projects. My favorite spot to write is in the yellow armchair in our study, with my laptop propped up on a pillow on my lap.

I recently bought a cozy throw for chilly mornings, but then of course Summer dragged on, and it was too warm to use it. But now I foresee some blanket-love in a not too distant future, and that is another reason to be excited that Fall is here.

Is it just me or is Autumn not a much more evocative word than Fall? Autumn sounds like the yellow, reds and browns or the leaves, and like the melody of rain drops dripping on the roofs. Fall sounds, at best, like it might get a bit windy.

In Denmark, it gets so dark in Autumn and Winter. Pretty much whenever you’re not at work, it’s dark. Perhaps that is why people are so crazy about candles there. Lighting candles instantly turns a dark, gloomy evening into a special occasion. Even though it is certainly less dark in San Diego where I live now, I still love the atmosphere that candles create. The candles in my study nook help me get up in the morning when it’s dark and it seems that the whole world is asleep. A cup of comforting coffee and candlelight glow make early morning writing sessions into the highlight of the day.


In early autumn, the sun starts to rise while I’m still writing. The sky turns pink and then golden, and when there are clouds, the view can make you sigh with happiness.


Slowly the sun creeps over the roofs until it finally reaches our balcony. The plants don’t know yet that it’s Autumn. Or, more likely, they don’t really care, since it never really gets cold. I’m not sure I will ever get used to to harvesting tomatoes in December.


Some mornings, I go for a walk or a jog. We live in a very quiet area with big eucalyptus trees, beige apartment complexes (I really don’t know why all buildings in Southern California are beige. Perhaps it’s to conceal the dust?), and small, paved, winding paths. Even though it’s often sunny, the early morning air is often chilly. Sunny and chilly is my favorite kind of running weather.

On my usual route, I pass the community gardens. They are a collection of small, eclectic, messy allotments where people grow vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers. The blue bench is my favorite, I think.


On the other hand, I also love the hay bales, the toy windmills, and the toppled-over scare crow.


And the flamingo, of course. I hope my brother reads this. We share a special bond with flamingoes. I gave him a plastic one for his last birthday. That’s a story for another time.


Sometimes when I return from my run, Paulus is already making breakfast. Those are good days.


All in all, I am immensely pleased that Fall has arrived. I’m going to make the best of cooler temperatures, dark-outside-but-candlelit-inside mornings, and all the wonderful seasonal produce that is coming my way in our vegetable box. Recipes and suggestions for favorite autumn meals are more than welcome!

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