These past few weeks I have been listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sing, “Autumn in New York” to get me mentally prepared for the changing of the seasons. The leaves haven’t really changed their colors too drastically, but they are definitely falling from the trees and signaling their preparation for the winter months…and the rebirth they will experience in the upcoming months.

I have always said I needed to live in a place with seasons. I like visiting California and Florida and other warm states, but I could never see myself living there. I need to see the cycle of life played out in front of me as a reminder to slow down, take stock of my own internal and external changes, and allow myself to be inspired by the shedding of the old and the budding of new life over the course of fleeting weeks and months.

I’ve been pulling out sweaters and sweatshirts as we prepare for the colder weather and realizing it is time for me to clean out my closets and purge. Just as the trees shed leaves and bark, I too must shed items that no longer serve a purpose in my life. I must also remember that this is the time that many families need warm clothes as they prepare for the winter, and for far too many, the unknown circumstances pertaining to their housing stability. 

I’ve also taken advantage of this season and made time to observe the migrating birds heading south for the winter. Central Park and Prospect Park are just two of the places where you can catch immense bird diversity during this time of year, especially if you are out at night. Far too often we are on our phones when we are outdoors, and we forget to look up. In doing so, you just may catch sight of a red-tailed hawk or a golden finch in your midst.

Like many people, I am still trying to adjust to being outdoors. It is this time of year where I take advantage of the farmers market and the abundance of fresh apples and pears. I have even gotten to enjoy hot apple cider and apple cinnamon donuts this season. I am not a fan of pumpkin anything, but if you are, now is the time to treat yourself to your pumpkin latte or pumpkin muffins to signal the entrance of fall and all of the transformations in store for us. 

The beauty of autumn is that it is a reset for us. A time to shake off anything that is not working for you and also a time to prepare for what is to come. We must remember that newness and new life are just around the bend, and we must do our part to be prepared.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.

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