As I sit here typing out this post, it's raining and gray outside. From where I sit it looks like midwest winter; in reality it's September and seventy degrees outside. Just raining. However, the recent changes in weather and temperatures along with Pumpkin Spice Lattes have me craving fall as much as I want it to stay away just a little while longer.
Autumn is by far my favorite season, in part because of where I grew up. My hometown was a college town filled with brick buildings and tree-lined streets. We lived in a pretty rural area, surrounded and were surrounded by forest and hiking trails; my favorite way to mark seasonal changes involved going hiking (well, after I learned how to drive). An abundance of trees meant an abundance of color when the season changed along with the unmistakable scent of frost and dry leaves.
This year, like the past six years, is different as much as it remains the same. We still have access to forest and trees, just in a bigger city, and we still get to see golden reds, umbers and yellows when out for a walk. There just isn't a hill ablaze in color when I walk out my front door in the morning, and there aren't students setting up for bonfires, cider nights, or setting up for Sukkot when the season marks it.
Of course, after eighteen years of a Monday-through-Friday school year (I'm counting preschool as well) the passage of the seasons is a bit less pronounced, though they do announce themselves loudly in some cases, with a whisper in others. For the past few years when the first crisp morning comes with the scent of frost and dry leaves, I'm taken back to the days when I'd leave my dorm in the early morning for pancakes in the dining hall. Brick buildings were the norm, and the frost was on everything those mornings - the walkways, the brick, the wrought iron handrails. When in college, early fall mornings are peaceful around the dorms, busy in the class buildings. This is true of most early mornings (especially senior year when final projects are due). In the suburbs, early mornings are full of hustle and bustle. Folks going off to work, getting kids ready to go to school, and there is a sense of urgency that you don't fine on the weekends, or at seven a.m. on the campus of my alma mater.
I know that living in the past is unnecessary, and we are working to make new fall traditions. This year I want to carve pumpkins to display on our front stoop (something I have not done since I graduated. It's hard to display pumpkins in an apartment, and last year we struggled to find the "right" pumpkin). We have plans to go to Halloween parties and possibly host our own fall gathering with friends, our firepit, and marshmallows. Now when the mornings are crisp and cool I have memories of our first fall days in our house last year and sipping coffee in the back yard. When I think fall now I think road races and training, running and movies, coffee and chai and Sukkot (some things won't change).
As an adult well-removed from college, there is a bit of urgency to fall, with thoughts of "let's get this done." There is also a reminder to slow down. Cool weekday mornings still involve coffee, though now instead of studying it's a newspaper (or the news online). Coffee shops are walking distance away when the day calls for chai, and there is nothing like bundling up in a hoodie and stepping out the backdoor to frost glistening on the grass. When autumn rolls around with bright colors trumpeting the end of this season and the start of the next, I will stop and savor the reds, umbers, oranges and yellow. I will savor them with hoodies, boots, sweaters, chais and books. There will be long runs and walks and a newfound love for seat heaters in the car, but there will be color enjoyed over steaming coffee in the morning. This is why I love autumn, and it is why when autumn comes in bright and loud, I want to stop and savor, because there is nothing else like it.