Mother Nature must’ve guffawed til her sides ached as she read scores of first day of fall memes flooding the internet. How ironic that fellow lovers of colorful leaves, cozy sweaters, pumpkin patches, and simmering soups wiped dripping sweat from brows in 90 plus temps on the cusp of our favorite season. For folks who’ve eagerly awaited brisk mornings and hoodies, last week’s sultry heat didn’t just set us back; it wilted spirits. Don’t worry, though. We’ll recover as soon as morning thermometers hover in the thirties or low forties.
It’s interesting to read friends’ posts during this hinge between summer and autumn. It doesn’t take long to know who loves frosty winters, pastel springs, simmering beach-weather summers, and my favorite-- fall. When I scan Facebook, I see clearly why some of my friends and I connect. We love this time of year that others see as a harbinger of doom.
We love nature’s colors as foliage morphs from green to yellow, orange, bronze, and crimson. We love gunmetal grays that dominate skies this time of year. We love native grass hues as they switch off chlorophyll production and turn on dormant mode. We love watching birds stage in voracious hordes in preparation to migrate. We love those crazy cricket serenades that foretell dropping temperatures. We love high school football games with its scent of freshly buttered popcorn.
We love knowing hunting seasons have begun so our freezers will soon be full of freshly harvested game. We love standing over the stove to stir soups that smell of onion, garlic, tomatoes, basil, oregano as they simmer and perfume our homes. We love kneading flour, yeast, eggs, oil, and water into crusty breads we’ll bake, slice, and toast with cheese to eat with our soup or chili. We love others who understand our quirky fixation with this time of year.
I understand why some dread this season. Daylight shortens. Calendars mark the beginning of regimented activities, the end of lazy days at the pool, the last days of garden production, and the beginning of paying a rising winter heat bill. Despite recognizing others’ distress, I can’t help but wake up smiling when the autumnal equinox tells me summer is over. It means my favorite birds, sandhill cranes, will soon return, winging and singing their song across russet and golden fields on their way to New Mexico’s playas. I’ll hear their ancient cry and imagine elk bugling in the background though I know that hasn’t happened across our state for nearly a century.
My fellow autumn lovers are nesters, folks who love snuggling tight at homes with loved ones. This season appeals to those who savor each diminishing sound as cooling nights shut down summer’s harsh decibels. This begins a time of introspection and contemplation. Summer will return for those in mourning. For those of us celebrating its end, ignore the heat and brew a pot of cider. Raise your mug to toast golden days ahead.