Saturday, October 04, 2008

It's the Return of My Favorite Season: Fall

I think most people have their favorite seasons, at least those who live in parts of the country that actually have seasons. Summer is probably the favorite of most because of its many weather-related advantages: no coats, no wind chill, and no snow. Plus there are summer vacations, swimming, picnics, baseball, and boating.

Students and teachers enjoy the summer because they don’t have to go to school. It is generally a time of greater relaxation and fun in the sun.

I like summer, too. But it’s not my favorite season. Until fairly recently, it was my least favorite season. That’s because I deplore the extreme heat and humidity that often accompany the dog days of summer.

My favorite season is the one we just entered, autumn. I also once enjoyed wintertime, but not so much anymore. Winter, once my second favorite season behind fall, is now my least favorite. As I’ve grown older I’ve begun to realize that I can’t stand being cold anymore. I never did actually enjoy being cold, but I could live with it. I liked the snow. And I liked the coziness of winter. But I got over it.

Autumn is a season that most people either love or hate. Those who hate it often relate it to death or dying as the leaves wilt and fall from the trees and the grass turns brown. It’s a sign that winter, most people’s least favorite season, is just around the corner. So fall becomes a harbinger of the cold, dreary days ahead.

For me, though, I find autumn delightful. It is full of vibrant colors. It has one of my childhood’s favorite holidays, Halloween. It’s a time when the hot, humid days of summer are finally behind us and the cool, crisp, clear autumn air fills our days. It is harvest season, a time when we drink apple cider and have pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving is also an autumn holiday. It’s a time of family gatherings and that warm, homey feeling one gets when surrounded by kith and kin.

It reminds me of trips to Brown County when I was a child, with the gorgeous display of nature’s colors against a backdrop of towering hills and deep river valleys. Autumn picnics are the best. You get to take in the beauty of nature while not being bothered by the steamy heat that characterized the summer just past.

Autumn is also a time for seasonal decorations. It starts with the pumpkins, gourds, and jack-o-lanterns of October. Then you move on to the cornucopias and cardboard cutouts of turkeys and pilgrims for November. Most of the Christmas season is still officially in the fall, too.

But then, following the holidays of autumn and early winter come the bleak, cold days of mid-winter. It is then when I start looking forward to spring. Spring was never my favorite season, mainly because it marked the end of my once-beloved wintertime, but also because of the violent weather.

But after many years of realizing that I really didn’t like winter all that much, and that violent weather is always spotty and not often as bad as predicted, I started rethinking my dislike of springtime.

At any rate, it’s fall now. We are near the beginning of my favorite three months of the year, October, November, and December. So, even though my freedom of summer is over, as a schoolteacher, I plan to enjoy the brisk autumn air and take in the scenery as I prepare for that first seasonal tradition of handing out sugary treats to young strangers who come knocking on my door.

Have a cup of hot cider and enjoy the season.

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