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  • Writer's pictureSieske Valk

A love letter to Autumn

Tabby cat covered in autumn leaves on a grassy field
Photo credit: Karina B. on Unsplash

I was born around the Autumn equinox. Having come to know myself better, I couldn’t have been born at any other time; it’s the time of year when the day and night are in perfect balance and they both get an equal amount of time to shine.

Everyone who knows me knows that Autumn is my season: scrunchy leaves, amber-to-red trees, candlelight in the evening, hearty stews, and the combination of throw+book+cat is what I live for. I even gave my company the name of the season.

So, what does Autumn have to do with ageing animals and End-of-life care?

I’m going to take you on an Autumnal metaphor that works in my head, so I hope it does on paper/screen too. If you imagine a cat or dog you’ve had since they were very young…

In Spring, they run around, are a whirlwind of energy, enjoy socialising with everyone, explore new green spaces or gardens, are always up for spontaneous trips and come into full bloom.

In Summer, they mature, slow down a bit, know what they want and settle into a comfortable routine with their family.

And then comes Autumn. Some days are crisp air with scrunchy leaves days, and some days it’s like we’re back in summer. Some days are torrential rain days, followed by a bright low low-hanging sun that lights up the tarmac in a way that blinds you silly. That light is brighter than the sunshine on a bright summer day.

The green leaves have changed into flaming bright red and amber ones. We now appreciate the wild zoomies of Spring are gone, but what we receive in return is a more grounded, deep trust, love, and peace.

And this is why I love Autumn. It’s unpredictably predictable. We’re moving towards the fallow period, but there’s still lots of sunshine left.

I feel pride when my almost 17-year-old cat Lewis walks around comfortably, without pain, interacting with other cats outside. I wake up with an overflowing heart when I open my eyes and find him purring (feet up) in my arms, not really knowing how and when he settled there. I return home from a fun and amazing event because I suddenly feel the urge to be with him, his grounding abilities and sense of calm.

We have been together for 15 years and I can still remember the wild zoomies in the middle of the night. I can also remember him tolerating me bringing elderly cats home to care for, because he knew this thing we have, that’s for life and nobody can come between it. I am fully enjoying and being present now that he’s going through his Autumn, and I am there with him, supporting him and making sure he can enjoy it to the max. And tears well up thinking about his Winter, but I know that time will be here at a certain point, sneakily nestling into our lives without us noticing. But as Aija Kojima mentions beautifully in The Zen of Cat:

“Embracing the gift of winter is the only way we can invite spring to flourish. A short passionate summer and a longer harvest in autumn means you cannot enjoy each season without the other repeatedly, as it is not the universal law in nature. If you do, you will be out of harmony and have to pay in the long term. We need to accept all seasons in our life, in ourselves, as each one of the seasons has important roles. Follow all the seasons as they are, don’t push them away or try to make them stay longer. Accept it as it is. Embrace what it gives you, humbly. This is the only way we can live sustainably and keep our authenticity.” (The Zen of Cat, by Carla Francis, P.20)


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