A Promise of Spring in Every Autumn

Autumn. Sonbahar in Turkish. Son means last. Bahar means spring. Bahar, a Persian loanword بهار, means also blossom, blossoming. And so, sonbahar, autumn, is literally the last blossoming. Turkish, one of the most elegantly structured languages I know, has its opposite counterpart— ilkbahar, which means spring. İlk means “first.” İlkbahar and sonbahar, spring and autumn. The first blossoms and the last. 

So in every autumnal leaf lies a promise of another spring. 

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Hilde: Autumn is my favourite season. And the smell of fallen leaves, ohh…. That fragrance in a home diffuser would be delightful. November 20, 2020 at 7:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I would also like one, but I fear that it won’t match the real thing. November 21, 2020 at 6:06am Reply

  • rosarita: Lovely 🙂 here in the US Midwest, we have enjoyed a particularly beautiful autumn this year. November 20, 2020 at 7:55am Reply

    • Toni5x5: I agree, rosarita. The fall in Michigan this year was spectacular. I can’t remember a prettier October in many years. November 20, 2020 at 9:43am Reply

    • Victoria: You must have so many colors around! November 21, 2020 at 6:06am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for your interesting and inspiring post. “In every autumnal leaf lies a promise of another spring.” I can see an analogy at this time. For every day that is spent in lockdown, lies the promise of a day of freedom.

    I was looking for a short poem about autumn or spring that I could contribute. I found several poems called “The Promise of Spring”, and there could be many more. Then of course there is John Keats’ ode, “To Autumn”.

    But I settled on a short and sweet poem in which Emily Brontë expressed her love of autumn. It was published in 1846, in a booked entitled “Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell”, when she was aged 28. I hope you enjoy it.

    Fall, Leaves, Fall

    Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
    Lengthen night and shorten day;
    Every leaf speaks bliss to me
    Fluttering from the autumn tree.
    I shall smile when wreaths of snow
    Blossom where the rose should grow;
    I shall sing when night’s decay
    Ushers in a drearier day. November 20, 2020 at 7:56am Reply

    • Janet: I didn’t know Emily Brönte wrote poetry. I love the defiance in that poem! Thank you for posting it. November 20, 2020 at 11:04am Reply

      • Janet: oops. Brontë. November 20, 2020 at 11:05am Reply

      • Tourmaline: You’re welcome, Janet. Apparently “Wuthering Heights” and the poems in that book were the only works she ever published. November 21, 2020 at 3:14am Reply

      • Victoria: For me too, it’s her defiance that I find so compelling and inspiring. November 21, 2020 at 6:15am Reply

    • Silvermoon: Such beauty in the poetry! It brought back memories of visiting the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth. I imagined Emily looking out of the sisters’ shared study in the front of the house, while writing the poem. I have seldom been more moved than to see the table in the room shared by them and where they did most of their writing. We live about an hour and half away from Haworth, and love to visit there or go walking in the countryside nearby. It’s lovely on a crisp, cold, and sunny autumn day.

      Tourmaline, you are heading into spring, of course! So, for you it’s first rather than last blossoms that colour the earth.

      Victoria, thank you for the lovely reflections on autumn and the beautiful autumn 🍂 leaf. November 20, 2020 at 5:27pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Isn’t it beautiful! It sounds as though she loved the autumn.

        Visiting that Parsonage would have been wonderful. You might know this already, but according to Wiki, “In July 2019 English folk group The Unthanks released Lines, a trilogy of short albums, which includes settings of Brontë’s poems to music and was recorded at the Brontës’ parsonage home, using their own regency piano, played by Adrian McNally.”

        Actually, spring is almost over, here; in just nine days it will be summer. We’ve already had a few very hot, summer-like days. When it becomes very hot again, I shall imagine walking in Haworth on a cool autumn day! November 21, 2020 at 3:23am Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you! I am glad that you liked it. We have a few Japanese maple in the park, and I often pick up fallen leaves to bring home. November 21, 2020 at 6:33am Reply

      • Alison: I love Haworth, I used to live near there in Hebden bridge and Todmorden and Bradford. Miss Yorkshire a lot. November 23, 2020 at 6:36am Reply

    • Peter: Mahalo Tourmaline, for sharing this unique vision of Autumn. I like Janet’s word choice of ‘defiance’. November 20, 2020 at 11:19pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: You’re welcome, Peter. Yes, it’s as though Emily is just daring the autumn to come a little sooner! November 21, 2020 at 3:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for sharing this poem. As someone else mentioned, the element of defiance is so striking as is the surge of hope. November 21, 2020 at 6:10am Reply

      • Tourmaline: You’re welcome. November 21, 2020 at 6:46am Reply

    • Mel: Thanks for this, Tourmaline. I enjoy reading your comments to V’s posts! So stimulating and a welcome diversion from political hyper-vigilance! November 21, 2020 at 8:28pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: You’re welcome, Mel. Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. I can certainly understand the need for a diversion during the current political times… November 21, 2020 at 9:25pm Reply

  • Marsha: Lovely article, Victoria. Autumn is my favorite time of year. November 20, 2020 at 9:28am Reply

  • Lodina: Beautiful. Your content is so thoughtful, creative, and eclectic. Thank you for sharing it. November 20, 2020 at 9:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! November 21, 2020 at 6:11am Reply

  • Alison: I hate autumn because it’s so wet and dull where I live and very little sun. My favourite is the very early spring, in Febryary when snow drops and crocuses come and there’s a better chance of frost. I love frost but with climate change it is very rare where I live. November 20, 2020 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Not everyone’s favorite season, of course. I dislike summer, so even the grey, dull, rainy autumn in Belgium is a delight to me. That being said, these days are sunny, golden and beautiful. November 21, 2020 at 6:12am Reply

      • Alison: I hate summer as well, I don’t like being warm, I like dry warmth but not the humid UK warmth, the West of the UK is extremely warm and wet with climate change, I miss the crisp golden autumns of my youth, I also miss frosts. The British isles has been so badly affected by global warming, I miss my 4 seasons and wearing my lovely winter coat. November 21, 2020 at 8:10am Reply

        • Victoria: Frost on a crisp autumn day, when you can smell both the fallen leaves and the snow, is one of the best seasonal experiences for me. Sadly, it no longer happens here. I miss winter and snow. We haven’t had real snow here in Brussels for a few years. November 21, 2020 at 8:19am Reply

          • Alison: Oh yes, I really, really miss that so much. You have a similar climate to the Western UK. Frost is my favourite weather but they are very rare these days. November 21, 2020 at 4:36pm Reply

        • Klaas: Summer is not my favorite either. We had quite a scorcher here in Europe, with temperatures soaring everywhere. I love it when the weather turns, the nights cool, and the autumn……..my absolute favorite season! The golden light, the colors, and yes also the the drab grey weather.

          How true that we miss the smell (and sight) of frost, let alone snow. I’m crossing my fingers for a cold, dry, sunny, white winter 😉 November 23, 2020 at 4:46am Reply

          • Alison: I hope we get at least one frosty, icey day, I’ll cherish it. November 23, 2020 at 6:37am Reply

  • Toni5x5: Thank you for such an interesting post. I love words and etymology; it is fascinating to me. I have always wished that if I could have one special power I would wish to have the ability to speak any language and be able to communicate with anyone. November 20, 2020 at 9:56am Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: What a graceful explanation of the Turkish words! I do associate autumn with spring and renewal, because I love garden bulbs and usually plant many of them every fall, with anticipation of spring flowers. November 20, 2020 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s true! You’ve reminded me that my great-grandmother used to plant tulips, daffodils and other bulbs at this time. I find these transitional seasons the most moving, both autumn and spring. November 21, 2020 at 6:13am Reply

  • Lari: Living in New York Autumn is definitely my favorite time of year. Beautiful, crisp, stunning colors abound-an invitation to experience walks in parks, driving a bit upstate to leaf peep, drink cider and choose autumn vegetables from a farmer. Sinatra sang a song about it ! It is a welcome respite after summers in a humid, hot sweat filled summer. And yes, the promise of spring is right around the corner. I could definitely do with those 2 seasons alone. November 20, 2020 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Same here! They are my favorite seasons. November 21, 2020 at 6:14am Reply

  • Abhi Rao: Thanks for such a wonderful post! Autumn is definitely my favorite season. A note on the etymology. In Urdu, “Son” means gold. Sonbahar could also be translated as a golden spring. What a wonderful play of works of Son meaning “last” and “golden.” Languages are fascinating! November 20, 2020 at 11:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Fascinating, isn’t it! In Turkish, gold is altın, so سونا and son are only homonyms. Still, it’s such a lovely image, golden spring.
      Turkish and Urdu share quite a few words in common, although in some cases their meanings are quite different. My favorite false friend pair is محبت, mohabbat, being “love” in Urdu and “conversation” in Turkish (like “muhabbet etmek” to have a chat). November 21, 2020 at 6:27am Reply

      • Abhi: Such a lovely play of words! Yes mohabbat in urdu is love–never knew it was conversation in Turkish, but so fitting! Love is quite a bit like a conversation. Turkish sounds such a romantic language to use such a turn of phrase. Thanks–I always pick up a lovely nugget from you, every blog. Such gratitude! November 21, 2020 at 7:15pm Reply

        • Victoria: In Albanian, muhabet (adapted from Turkish) also means to have a chat. So, I always liked when my Albanian friend invited me for “kafe dhe muhabet,” a coffee and chat. Muhabbet in Turkish also means fondness, affection in some contexts, so the association of affection and a chat is a nice one.

          Thank you so much! I always learn something new from all of you. November 22, 2020 at 6:36am Reply

  • irem: Merhaba Victoria, thank you for your wonderful post. Sonbahar has always been my favorite season, but it is the first time that I am seeing it as the last blossom – and I am Turkish.

    I have been following and enjoying your blog regularly since 2005. Your blog has always added some beauty and enrichment to my life – be it about fragrance, cooking, books, travel and art. But I would not have imagined learning a new insight into my native language.

    I have always loved sonbahar (more than Autumn or the almost sad Fall), now you gave me one more reason to do so. I am deeply grateful. November 20, 2020 at 2:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for your kind words! Reading your comment made my evening. I love Turkish language and its beautiful structure. Speaking it is such a pleasure–and luckily, here in Brussels, it’s easy to find opportunities to do so. 🙂

      The beauty of Turkish is how it has absorbed elements from other languages and made them fit into its own unique structure. And of course, the traces of Turkish in other languages make for another fascinating topic. November 21, 2020 at 6:31am Reply

  • delia jean adkins: again, your words are lovely. November 20, 2020 at 3:18pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Autumn is my favorite season. Spring is wonderful as well, but I’m an autumn and winter person. I’ve been wearing my favorite autumn scents, Hermes Ambre de Narguile and Jo Malone’s Black Vetiver and Cafe’, along with Ormonde Jayne Woman. November 20, 2020 at 5:24pm Reply

    • Silvermoon: Hello rickyrebarco! I am also enjoying wearing my favourite autumnal scents. Somehow, I find autumn the best season for wearing perfumes – can’t really explain why. This week I have worn Ormonde Jayne Woman, JM Velvet Rose and Oud, Hermes Ambre de Narguile, Montale Blue Amber and Caron Aimee Moi. Many more waiting their turn in the wings. November 20, 2020 at 5:35pm Reply

      • Silvermoon: Oops: Aimez Moi November 20, 2020 at 5:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a beautiful selection! You inspired me to wear Ambre Narguile, and it smells so good. November 21, 2020 at 6:32am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Oops: Aimez Moi November 20, 2020 at 5:37pm Reply

  • Peter: Mahalo Victoria, for sharing the beauty of the Turkish language. I recently watched the film “Winter Sleep” which showcased the spectacular Steppes of Turkey. I thought of you because of the literate script, based on Chekhov and Dostoyevsky. November 20, 2020 at 11:12pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: I remember you telling me about that film. It sounded very interesting. November 21, 2020 at 4:41am Reply

    • Victoria: I will look for it! I watch lots of Turkish food shows–and reluctantly, because my grandmother likes them and insists to watching every episode twice, soap operas. This film sounds beautiful. November 21, 2020 at 6:36am Reply

  • Amalia: Really? November 21, 2020 at 5:51am Reply

  • Rita: Beautiful and interesting post. I like the poem by Keats called To Autumn. It’s long, so I’ll just quote this:

    Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
    Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. November 21, 2020 at 10:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Rita! I didn’t know this poem, so Í just read the full version online. So beautiful. November 21, 2020 at 11:38am Reply

  • Aurora: It’s so wonderful those two words, thank you for explaining. The revolutionary calendar was so poetic, geminal, thermidor, fructidor… etc. I wish it had survived. November 21, 2020 at 10:43am Reply

    • Victoria: It is certainly poetic.
      In Ukrainian, the months are known by their attributes, so October is zhovten’–from the word for yellow. November is lystopad, the falling of leaves, literally. November 21, 2020 at 11:37am Reply

  • Klaas: Last Spring, Golden Spring……..I love it!
    And since we’re sharing, may I add another poem?

    This one is called Automne Malade (Ailing Autumn) by Apollinaire, from his bundle Alcools. I’ll paste the English translation below as well, but it is much nicer in French…

    Automne malade et adoré
    Tu mourras quand l’ouragan
    soufflera dans les roseraies
    Quand il aura neigé
    Dans les vergers

    Pauvre automne
    Meurs en blancheur et en richesse
    De neige et de fruits mûrs
    Au fond du ciel
    Des éperviers planent
    Sur les fixes nicettes
    aux cheveux verts et naines
    Qui n’ont jamais aimé

    Aux lisières lointaines
    Les cerfs ont bramé

    Et que j’aime ô saison
    que j’aime tes rumeurs
    Les fruits tombant sans qu’on les cueille
    Le vent et la forêt qui pleurent
    Toutes leurs larmes en automne
    feuille à feuille

    Les feuilles
    Qu’on foule
    Un train
    Qui roule
    La vie

    Autumn ill and adored
    You die when the hurricane
    blows in the roseries
    When it has snowed
    In the orchard trees

    Poor autumn
    Dead in whiteness and riches
    Of snow and ripe fruits
    Deep in the sky
    The sparrow hawks cry
    Over the sprites with green hair the dwarfs
    Who’ve never been loved

    In the far tree-lines
    the stags are groaning

    And how I love O season
    how I love your rumbling
    The falling fruits that no one gathers
    The wind the forest that are tumbling
    All their tears in autumn leaf by leaf

    The leaves
    You press
    A crowd
    That flows
    The life
    That goes November 23, 2020 at 5:03am Reply

  • JD: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for this lovely post.
    Few sights are more beautiful than trees with brilliant foliage—bold reds, yellows, oranges, and browns. Have a beautiful evening. November 23, 2020 at 1:19pm Reply

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