This article originally appeared in The Curator November 20, 2009.
You are the sexiest of all the seasons. When you come around, I drop everything and give myself to you wholly. I will be your mistress, and I will love you even on the darkest and greyest of days. I will lay in the grass and stare up at the nakedest of trees, thinking only of you.
I will never call you fall, only autumn. Fall is so pedestrian, and the way I feel about you is deep and serious and sophisticated. You are the season in which I was born, and I am saturated by you.
It’s my understanding that many people love summer, and prefer it to you. What are they thinking? No afternoon in the hot sun on the beach or beside the pool compares to a hike in an autumn wood or curling up under a fleece blanket beside a crackling fireplace. Who needs the bright colors of summer when they can have the curl of yellow, fiery red, or savory, scrumptious orange? I’d even take your crunchy browns over that summer gleam. I need to tell you that summer doesn’t hold a candle to you, especially for a northern girl who, like me, finds herself living south of the Mason-Dixon line. Spending the summer running from one air conditioned space to another is not my idea of a good time. I loathe air conditioning, and loathe summer all the more for making it necessary. Summer is the most painful of seasons.
So, every year I wait for you. Beginning in September, when I’ve had all I can take of humid, sweaty, melty days, I check the weather report religiously, waiting for your arrival. I trust that you will rescue me, and every year, without fail, you do. It’s always later than I would hope, usually mid-October, a good month or so after the calendar touts your arrival and long after you’ve swept through my old stomping grounds.
My family calls to tell me that it’s forty degrees when I’m still melting in eighty degree heat. Forty degrees may be cold, but I get jealous. I long for you. I want more than anything to pull down my box of sweaters and wear them all in your name. I want to walk outside and feel my cheeks flush at a passing breeze. I want you with me forever.
Though I am grateful to have you, I know that for now I don’t have you fully. Not here, where I currently call home. Where I live is subtropical, and you don’t venture that far south. Instead you blow kisses in my direction, enough to drop the temperatures a bit, but you prefer the north. You change the colors of their leaves, keep them swaddled in wool scarves and turtlenecks, and encourage the ample stocking of firewood. I don’t begrudge you this. After all, I decided to move away. What I didn’t realize is that I was leaving you. I took you for granted for so many years, and now that I yearn for you and want you back, I can’t have you. And you know it.
This morning, I went for a walk looking for evidence of you. The sky was grey, swelling with the onset of a storm. The wind gusted and whipped my hair across my face. I saw block after block of green leaves on trees that refuse to admit that summer is over and it’s time to let go.
But then I turned a corner and saw it – just a glimpse. A swirl of brown leaves on the sidewalk peppered with tiny red rebellious leaves, ones that have embraced you, ones that I love. I thought about chasing after them and catching as many little red leaves as I could, but I didn’t want to go overboard. Lord knows who would’ve seen me on the side of the road stuffing leaves into my shirt like a crazed game show contestant or a scarecrow.
I’m not quite that crazy. Instead, my mother-in-law has promised to wax leaves from the north and send them to me soon. Autumn, it’s not soon enough – I want them now.
You are so much more than cool temperatures and changing leaves. You are a season, a time frame. You are September, October, and November. You are the beginning of the school year and the ushering in of the holidays. You are apples and pumpkins, hayrides, and corn mazes. You are my reason to wear corduroy.
This is a love that will surely endure the test of time.
When my husband and I gear up for baseball playoffs and football Sundays, I know you are close. He spends hours in the kitchen making chili and I make apple crisp and pumpkin bread. It’s all we eat for weeks at a time. We drink pumpkin spice coffee in the mornings and pumpkin ale at night. We savor you.
Autumn, without you, my life would be incomplete. You are the scarf around my neck, the cool air tickling my nose. I love you unapologetically, forever and ever.