Autumn, a lovely and most pleasing season, has been libeled this year in The Post, a fact that has not escaped the attention of faithful readers. An essay, both pretentious and portentous, in the Style section asserts that the season's foliage is colorless and, by way of explanation, puts into the pulpit various End-of-the-Earth characters to expound on global warming, the ozone layer and other themes of "degradation, regression, death."

Mary Holman of Silver Spring nominates the piece for a special nonsense prize. It "combines awful literary style, weak research, a nasty tone ("doom, gloom and doom") and is wrong. The trees turned color today!"

A fellow Silver Springer, David Perlman, was equally befuddled by the article. It appeared "at the end of a week of one of the most glorious autumn leaf displays in recent memory. Now I grant that 15th and L streets {The Post's headquarters} is not exactly a marker on a nature trail. But can it be that no editor dealing with the story happened to look out the window while driving to work ?"

Of course it can be. The condition known as GESS (green eye shade syndrome) is common in newsrooms, has baffled medical science and is the product of an editing lifetime spent in airless, treeless and leafless surroundings.

As for the autumn of 1990, our reds are not quite so brilliant as last season because of a late frost, but it has been an adequate year for yellows, orange and gold. The Eastern Shore is ablaze. The real problem may lie with the essayist, Joel Achenbach, a recent immigrant from Florida, where changing seasons are unknown to man and God.

Mr. Perlman's keen eye for color is equally efficient in spotting the hole in a recent story out of Williamsburg. It revealed that Cary Field, the football facility at William and Mary College, had been renamed Walter J. Zable Stadium, because Mr. Zable, a fine W&M athlete in the 1930s, had donated $10 million to the school. Naming edifices after big donors is a common practice on college campuses. But, Mr. Perlman asks, "Who was Cary? ... Some unfortunate who in the distant past had donated a mere $100,000? Or was he, perhaps, the last football coach to have a winning season?"

The story didn't say; its editor may have been suffering from acute GESS spasms. The college, however, has the goods: T. Archibald Cary who, like his father, served on the William and Mary Board of Visitors, donated a modest sum in 1909 to level off a playing field and to equip it with bleachers. The field -- but not the stadium subsequently erected at the site -- was named to honor him and his father. So Mr. Cary has not been dishonored. If you find yourself on campus you may hike over to Zable Stadium to watch the game on Cary Field.

Christopher Hicks of Greenbelt and several other readers wish to know why The Post published the names of two Prince George's County policemen who killed a drug suspect during an "undercover" operation: "By releasing their names unnecessarily, their positions in the operation {were} placed in jeopardy -- not to mention their lives."

The Post might have avoided criticism if it had explained at the time that the officers were not involved in any "deep undercover" operation but were working the streets as part of a routine "buy and bust" detail. The paper should also have explained that the officers were named in court records after the shooting, had been named as arresting officers in previous cases and were known to various drug dealers who had brushes with the law.

An explanatory offering of another sort is submitted by Tom Bethel, Washington editor of the American Spectator magazine. Nowhere in the endless verbiage in The Post on the recent Battle of the Budget, Mr. Bethel asserts, would readers learn that Congress voted to spend $100 billion more next year than this year, an increase equal to the entire federal budget under John Kennedy:

"Why not just give us the figures, and tell us ... what's going on? Taxes are being raised to pay for a big increase in spending. That's what the budget deal was all about, but a general failure by the news media to report these figures has obscured the reality."

"Reality" is a many-splendored thing. In the morality play written in Congress and preferred by the "media," reality was the battle between haves and have nots; budget numbers were irrelevant.

It was a good script. The reelection rate was 97 percent.