I’m visiting my hometown of St. Louis this week, and the trip is bittersweet.

It’s a beautiful time of year here in the heart of the Midwest. I’m having a chance to reconnect with a childhood friend, visit favorite places, and discover what has changed since I moved away about 18 months ago.

But I also lost a first cousin earlier this month, which was a shock to everyone because he had appeared to be in great health. Being back home brings up lots of memories of him and other family members who are gone.

I know there are plenty of people who find autumn sad and depressing… summer’s long, verdant days and warm nights, barbecues and baseball games, fireworks and theme parks have had their day in the sun, and the days are shorter and darker now.

It’s been a difficult year for so many people. Even though I count myself as extraordinarily lucky, it can still be hard to wake up to yet another natural or manmade disaster and not lose sight of the positive.

But I’ve always loved this season, with its colorful trees glowing under cobalt blue or slate gray skies, frosty-crisp air, wood smoke, and long shadows. I find the cycle of seasons comforting… a progression, not an end.

Walking through familiar neighborhoods or in a beloved city park or the well-tended botanical garden, I found plenty of evidence that the world is both solemn and radiantly beautiful.


Share your thoughts, observations, and images of bittersweet autumn in the comments section below!

[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Stanley Zimny, dustinphillips,Bhanu Tadinada, Thomas Hawk, Tom Bastin, and Thomas Hawk© 2017 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]

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