09 November 2017

Thoughts on an Autumn Day

I love autumn. I even love the word: "Autumn."

I don't love the term "Fall" nearly as much. I think this is because fall has several negative connotations, with "sharp contact with the ground that can result in broken bones" being chief among them. If you have elderly parents or grandparents, this is one word you don't want to hear in association with them. "Fall" is also the term commonly used to connote the descent of humanity from a state of innocence to a state of depravity as per Genesis 3, for the theologians among us. You feel the fallout of this event every single day, as the evening news is only too happy to remind you should you ever forget it.

I do, however, like the ingenious way "fall" is used in this limerick:

There was a young fellow named Hall,
Who fell in the spring in the fall.
'Twould have been a sad thing
Had he died in the spring,
But he didn't -- he died in the fall.

Someone asked a friend visiting us from Brazil if his country had four seasons like in America. His reply: "Yes, we have four seasons: Hot, Very Hot, Hot as Hell, and So Hot You Want to Kill Yourself."

It's much the same in the south, which is why summer isn't my favorite season anymore. The constant summertime here somehow manages to be even more depressing than C.S. Lewis' "always winter and never Christmas" in a Narnia sans Aslan, so I guess I've just had a bit too much of a good thing. In a way, admitting this feels like treachery to my younger self, who basically lived for summer and impatiently counted off the days of every other season while waiting for June to come around again (the fact that school was out had a lot to do this).

Anyway, I enjoy this season so much more now that I'm a grownup and autumn no longer signals the beginning of the school year. Enforced indoctrination education and cold temperatures were really what ruined it for me. I measured my life by what was in season in our gardens, and when the zinnias popped up, that meant that the end of freedom was nigh. When their petals began to be tinged with frost, school was back in full swing. It also meant my long lazy days were over till the next year. No more swimming. No more chasing fireflies, no more fresh lemonade or barbecues or s'mores or fireworks. The tourists would arrive in New England in droves to see the "fall foliage", but I wasn't moved. Compared to the loss of my freedom, what consolation could xanthophyll and carotene possibly offer?

"But fall has its own fun activities," you say. If only I'd appreciated that fact sooner! Alas, the activities that make fall a pleasant time of year everywhere else just don't work in hotter climes. Like leaf jumping, for instance. I suppose I could rake palm branches in a pile and jump in them, but I doubt it would be the same. And then there are sand spurs, a scourge by which the north remains blessedly unafflicted. The same with leaf rubbings -- palmetto leaves just won't fit on one sheet of paper; I tried already. I suppose you can have a bonfire, if you don't mind the extra heat on an already sweltering hot day.

I can still make pumpkin pie, at least. My local supermarket does its best to ensure that we have some sense of seasonal changes around here by only carrying canned pumpkin around Thanksgiving. I guess this is their way of trying to reassure expats like me that we have at least one autumn-related thing to anticipate each year.

But the season I'm really looking forward to? Winter, of course. I can finally turn my A/C off!

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