The Monarchs and hummingbirds have now departed for warmer climes leaving a kind of sad emptiness in their wake. Despite beauty worthy of a seat in First Class on any of the world’s leading airlines, these elegant insects and remarkable birds must instead undertake their lengthy and perilous journey all on their own. Along the way, they will battle storms, predators, fatigue, and many other challenges. Nevertheless, through heroic persistence and iron-clad determination that would make any triathlete proud, they will complete their difficult journey.

Even as the Monarchs and hummingbirds have left Canada and are leaving growing parts of the United States, the laughter of children savoring their dwindling store of Halloween sweets lingers. Their laughter is an island of sound in an expanding sea of silence. A great hush is spreading across the transitioning autumn landscape. The melody of summer’s last remaining birds and insects is rapidly giving way to quiet.

In many areas, Jack Frost’s icy fingers have finished off once dazzling flowers and other tender vegetation. Wherever there are trees, falling leaves of many colors and shapes are increasingly filling the air. At the end of their descent, often from many meters above the earth, they steadily blanket the ground. With some imagination, one can envision the falling leaves bearing a prophecy of snowstorms to come with the leaf-covered ground providing an illustration of the snowy landscape that lies ahead. Others may see the fallen leaves as a reminder of the thick coat that will be required to keep one warm throughout winter’s cold days.

Daylight disappears more quickly with each passing day. Darkness lasts longer and longer. Turning the clock back cannot reverse the shortening hours of daylight. The air is cooler. Some mornings greet one with a sharp chill. Sometime, perhaps in a few weeks’ time, autumn’s silence will yield to the unmistakable moan of a rising nor’easter, the stormy trumpet that heralds winter’s arrival.

At present, autumn’s vivid fireworks are concluding. In some areas, a short intermission may follow.

Whether one waits patiently or impatiently for winter’s return, two thoughts can bring warmth to people no matter the season they love most. First, so long as we hold fast to the memories of the people and things that brought joy to us during the past year, that joy will be sustained even as the clock and calendar advance relentlessly and tirelessly. Second, so long as we appreciate what people and nature have to offer, we will always be able to look forward to the abundant beauty that can be found in every place, season, and time.

To preserve that joy and to discover the beauty that is all around us is entirely a matter of choice. Those priceless gifts are accessible to every person and at no price at all.

If one scans the multiplying photos found across the ever expanding Ipernity universe, one can see the works of people from around the world who have made just that choice. In their generosity, they have given us an example that we, too, can choose joy and beauty.