The Last Smiles of the Year

Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day,
from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges . . .
– Jane Austen, Persuasion, published 1818

I read Jane Austen more for bitingly funny commentary on human pretensions in the drawing room than for lyrical descriptions of nature, but every now and then she has a lovely turn of phrase.

. . . the last smiles of the year . . .

There are many who find beauty in winter landscapes. Well, OK. I’m not there yet. I do think winter looks and sounds better in Alberta or Saskatchewan than it does here in SE Ontario. Think sparkling blue skies and sun dogs versus grey overcast. Think packed snow that squeaks versus squidgy slush. But even at its best, it’s never been my favourite season. Too cold. Too glare-y.

But autumn! Ah, that’s a different story. Warm colours! Warm light! Even I could almost rhapsodize.

  . . . and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn — that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness — that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.

Ouch. There she goes again.

Without even the shadow of a breath of a hint of the poetry bump, I think I’ll go with a writer whose work has delighted folks for 200 years.

What Jane said.

And maybe with a photo or two. Because they make *me* smile.

2-photo collage to illustrate Austen's "last smiles of the year"

 

6 Comments

  1. Barbara Carlson

    This year I picked up a particularly bright red twig of leaves still attached and stuck it in the heat air vent on the car dashboard. The red was, dare I say it, as garish as artificial ones at Michael’s. When it finally broke apart and half of it fell into the air vent, it was the end of Fall, officially. The beginning of my winter sees Isabel long gone and people on the elevator whose hat and coat are covered in tiny diamonds… sparkles — of snow. Lovely.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Barbara – I suspect that “winter appreciation” is more often found in those with the hearts/souls of artists. I saw some of those floating diamonds last week, when the angled sunlight caught drifting snow flakes/bits Just Right.

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