A tree's leaves turned orange during fall.

(Photo by Elyse Hwang)


Column: Autumn in the suburbs

A reflection on autumn, life in the suburbs, growing up, and change.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/ehhwang25/" target="_self">Elyse Hwang</a>

Elyse Hwang

October 28, 2021

I never noticed how beautiful my small town becomes in the fall. You might not think that a Los Angeles suburb could feel like a place out of a New England storybook, but the weather actually does change here. As the clouds begin to encroach on the summer sun and embolden moodier shades, vibrant hues of orange, red, and yellow peek out from the deciduous trees attempting to hide amongst a crowd of evergreen pines, cedars, and deodars. 

From my house on the foothills, I get a breathtaking vantage point of the colorful autumn landscape. Nestled between two imposing mountains, I can see the high school, the churches on main street, and nearly the entirety of the homes in La Cañada. On foggy days, a blanket of mist seems to insulate the town from the outside world, temporarily inducing a mutual peace and quiet between residents.

(Photo by Elyse Hwang)

As I was driving with my father, I got a better view of all the homes and people that make up this town. Some families had started putting up their fall decorations — one house in a cul-de-sac had a group of witches draped in black cloth surrounding a cauldron, while another had a few friendly scarecrows sticking out for the bushes.  Pumpkins scatter the front porches and walkways of homes, complementing the yellowed leaves littering each yard. 

A little before dusk, families walk around the neighborhood, admiring the scenery and taking a breath of the cool autumn wind. As the children run ahead, their parents walk slowly, holding each other close to ward off the cold as they quietly muse on their day.  A small white dog scurries by their side. There’s a sense of nostalgia, warmth, community, and love in the air. I can’t exactly describe it, but it makes me sad that I’ve only just noticed how lovely La Cañada gets in October and November. 

(Photo by Elyse Hwang)

Maybe it’s a better representation of life. Fall is supposed to be a time of intentional change, of summer moving into winter, of a new school year starting, of nature shedding its robust foliage for a more modest winter look.

And I’m changing, too.  I’m growing up, and time seems to be slipping through my fingers. In less than two years, I won’t be here anymore. I won’t get to watch the pumpkins invading front porches and the leaves changing color and the clouds bidding summer farewell and the families taking their evening walks. I won’t be part of this town. It’ll just be a memory, a part of my childhood that my mind will wander back to in my dreams.

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