“L’automne est une saison sage et de bon conseil.”
– Félix-Antoine Savard
I’d just written of Bavaria, but immediately after publishing my post I realized that I need not venture too far from home to find Magic. In fact, I need only walk out of my front door and there it is — in the fallen autumn leaves on the ground, in the calmness of the River Cam, and in the gentle faces and voices of those around me here whom I hold so dear in my heart.
I was at MIASU (the Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies Unit) the other day and stumbled upon a stack of free postcards featuring beautiful photographs of the Mongolian countryside captured by one of the most well-respected academics in our department here, Professor Dame Caroline Humphrey. I decided to send one to my friend at Trinity through the Royal Mail — because I know the joy of receiving news through snail mail, even if we may meet every week — and the first line I wrote on the postcard was, “I’d never realized how beautiful — or even more so — Cambridge is in the autumn…”
And it is true. Perhaps we’d been blessed with a moderately dry autumn this year, but I am only now beginning to pay attention to the leaves turning to gold and the trees shedding all this load with each gust of wind. As I cycle along Trinity Street every morning, I can’t quite keep my eyes off the majestic Great Gate of the college, particularly when it is bathed in the the lukewarm autumn light of the morning sun. Often all of a sudden, I might find myself distracted when trying to keep from crashing into tourists who have spilled over from the sidewalk into the street, but this magical moment stays with me for the rest of the day and is a great start to the long hours to be spent in Queens’ library.
My landlady says that autumn is a “time of transition”, in which we should attempt to unwind a little and to hold ourselves together as we prepare for the trials of winter and the coming year. I could not agree more. Earlier in Michaelmas term I found myself completely overwhelmed with job applications and the demands of my writing, even undergoing a career crisis for a while, but she urges that I should take things slow. In my moments of frenzy, my landlady tries to calm me down and to take one things at a time — a valuable and sound advice I always forget to give myself.
It has not been easy to get here, but now that I am almost reaching the end of my time in Cambridge, I am slowly learning that perhaps the hardest part about living here is actually leaving it. I will surely miss it, no doubt, but for now I am beginning to feel my wanderlust taking over and prospects of a not-so-distant future elsewhere are beginning to gather appeal. And so while I will be sad to leave, I’d resolved to cherish every moment in this place and with the people here, for this is a blessing I could never be thankful enough for.