The Changing Leaves and Changing Lives

Like Minneapolis, Paris is home to beautiful fall colors, and in the original French lyrics of the song you know as “Autumn Leaves,” the line You see, I haven’t forgotten, is woven through the wistful memories of lost love.

Autumn carries with it a sense of longing.

We long for warmth and don additional layers of flannels and sweaters and scarves to achieve it.

We long for time to pause in those perfect moments as we teeter in between the heat of summer and the vortex of winter.

And deeply we long for the multiplication that happens when these moments are shared with a special someone else.

Leaf peeping, apple picking, spiced latte drinking, and walking in filtered sun on crunchy paths are more magical when experienced in tandem.

couple walking at pathway between trees
Photo by Heinz Klier on

The cold of the air and the darkening of the hours in autumn does something transformative to certain leaves. The veins get constricted. The little molecular chemists inside the leaves aren’t getting what they need to do their job of feeding the tree. They change shape and become something different.

Rather than reflecting the vibrant screams of green, these cells become transparent. In this change, they get out of the way, and something hidden is revealed. It actually was there all along: gold, yellow, orange, gentle reds.

alley autumn autumn colours autumn leaves
Photo by Pixabay on

As the season evolves, sun warming in day, temps chilling at night, more changes occur. New chemicals are created as soil conditions, tree genetics, and sugar levels combine to show off even more: deep maroons and purple.

autumn autumn colours autumn leaves blur
Photo by Pixabay on

The cold is the catalyst for the rainbow of beauty.

It’s easy to assume that, when changing for the better, sooner is better. Yet, it is the long summer of green that ripens us to thrill as the fall colors reveal themselves.

God’s faithfulness is in even the affliction.

Remembering the journey, observing the rings of growth, seeing the beauty slowly revealed over time – these are not the longings of regret or ungratefulness. As I acknowledge and let go of twinges of bitterness for myself an others, the pigment that has colored those memories changes. They are signs of life, of a soul within me designed to love and be loved and continually pursue the harmony of connection with humans and with our Maker.

Don’t forget who you were because of wishing you had been different.

Remember the green. Feel the cold.

And let yourself see the beauty that has been there, waiting to be revealed.

“Oh, I wish you’d remember..”

Song: “Autumn Leaves” 1945
Authors and Dates: music by Joseph Kosma (1905-1969), French poem by Jacques Prevert (1900-1977), English by Johnny Mercer (1909-1976)

read full original lyrics of ”Les feuilles mortes”

SOURCES and links for the curious…

[this post is modified from original post in 2019]

About the song

About the composer Joseph Kosma

About the French lyricist Jacques Prévert

About the American lyricist Johnny Mercer

An English translation of the original French lyrics

Why leaves really fall off of trees

More about leaves in autumn

About autumn leaf coloration

About plant senescense (seasonal color changes)

About the green pigment chlorophyll

About the yellow and orange pigment – Carotenoid

About the deep red and blue pigment -Anthocyanin

Listen on Soundcloud to Nathan and Naomi’s recording of “Autumn Leaves”