Why Falling Leaves Evoke Deep Memories

We are visiting a son at a college, and in Vermont at the moment, the fall foliage is peaking in Addison County, bordered by the Adirondacks. Between stopping at stands for cheddar and apples, we ride through patchworks of maroon and yellow and orange and umber -- impressionistic masterpieces swirling through hillsides and valleys.

This burst of nature at its most flamboyant is breathtaking, almost divine and fleeting. Though our most bountiful season, a prism of life, too soon our trees are stripped naked, their bearings starting to become a scattering of charred ashes.

The colors and cycle of the leaves of autumn evokes strong emotions and memories of times and people passed.

As children, we leap into piles of crunchy leaves, raked by fathers who are no longer here, a beloved ritual that still tempts me. As adults, we leap into our cars to glimpse peak foliages as they ignite our own nearby hills and valleys, booking hotels according to The Week the leaves will be at their most brilliant shades of gold and red. One day can make the difference between witnessing the full rainbow of autumn and instead seeing too much crusty brown.

What we love in nature and people ultimately leaves us, reminding us to embrace this day fully in the now. Thankfully, we have the power of memory that can bring our departed family back to life, scenes that are often catalyzed by the shift in seasons.

Summer turning into fall, the days still warm, the nights chilly, sends me back to the Midwest and my youth where October meant excitement about the coming of Halloween. My father would fashion elaborate costumes for his children, including my sister's award-winning spacesuit for which he crafted her helmet out of my mom's steel colander -- which I still have. We went to Horace Mann School and she held a sign that read: "Man, Oh Man, a Space Man from Horace Mann."

Today, I think of my sister, now 62, wearing that white costume with a colander on her head as it is sitting in my kitchen sink, filled with apples we gathered in Vermont.

We have kept a all our children's' Halloween costumes, from Power Ranger suits to Richard Nixon masks to a giant, inflatable Whoopee cushion. They are spilling out of a trunk in the guest bedroom, and on some days I sift through them, wincing at how swiftly that finger snap of time goes by that separates young motherhood from empty nest. In the pocket of a vampire cape I find a moldy Milky Way bar, that could have been from a night of Trick or Treating 20 years ago.

Fall does this to me; it deepens memories and emotions. The seasons of nature are temporary, like the passing seasons of our lives. We know this, yet we too often take the bounty that is ours for granted.

Today I see out my kitchen window that the trees are still leaden with bright green branches. While there is a dusting of crinkled dead leaves on our hill, in this fleeting moment, under sunny skies, I focus on the fortunes of this day. I know that in a finger snap, Halloween will be here, Thanksgiving will be here, Santa will come and we will be celebrating 2016.

The trees will be bare, and the river out my window will have an icy sheen. Yet even under the grayest of skies and braced against the coldest of winds, I will know that spring and flowers will be coming.

Iris Krasnow is a popular keynote speaker and bestselling author whose books can be found on iriskrasnow.com.