The excitement of autumn

October is over and we're well into November.  Like many, I claim that October my favorite month but it always seems to fly, and much of what makes October so great endures through November, so I draw a circle around those two months and call them my favorite time of year.

When we talk about loving October, it’s typically for the explosion of autumn colors.  My route to work takes me past a cemetery with a stone wall and orange trees along the road, and as the morning sun backlights the leaves, I want to pull over and bask in the warm glow awhile.

For me, though, it’s not just the outburst of colors.  I love autumn for the sense of urgency.
In the summer, hot days just become darker, and tomorrow will be little more than a variation on today.  It’s hot and there is no rush, and rushing makes things even more uncomfortable.  I’ve gone out to mow grass and been soaked before I even had the mower fueled.  The best time, the coolest time, the only break, is a bit before and after dawn.  Any coolness or stillness at all is then.  The rest of summer is the same.

In autumn, though, we have warm days and cool nights and that exciting sense of change.  We’re preparing for winter, for nighttime at 4:30 and for snow and for the effects of cold.  You can’t leave your laptop computer in the car, lest your Liquid Crystal Display become a Solid Crystal Display (bad, and expensive) and your battery – computer, phone, flashlight, car – needs attention to remain useful.  Don’t leave a soda in the car, especially not in a dashboard cup holder. 

Are you sure about that road, the hills and the curves, in this weather?  I’m thinking of Bridge Street crossing the Schuylkill from Phoenixville into Mont Claire.  I wouldn’t try it in either direction with snow on the ground, but then again, I’m betting that many residents of that area wouldn’t try Route 842 from West Chester to Unionville, in either direction, with snow, even though I have taken that route at all hours in all weather.  Wherever I started, I always knew that I could get home if I could reach 842.

Winter is coming and it demands an intentional attitude toward life.  When it arrives, we can’t just coast, expecting to be able to do whatever we want.  We have to plan and to follow the plan and there is satisfaction in the accomplishment.  Certain limits appear and nothing will bend them.  Winter doesn’t care who you know.


Summer moves, too, and time is passing, but it is hard to see.  You can spot the last day of 90 degrees only in hindsight, then the last day of 80 degrees.  When summer ends, it’s autumn, when you can still do almost everything that you did during the summer, except maybe swimming outside, and even then, you might catch a sunny afternoon on a warm day and play a bit if you are really motivated.  

Some things even become easier and better, like running and biking, without the smothering humidity.  Views hidden by brush open.  Ticks and flies and mosquitoes vanish.  You can roam in the high grass without worrying about Lyme disease, sit by the stream without worrying about West Nile or feeding the next generation of biting bugs

Autumn has a sound to it.  I shuffle my feet through piles of leaves and I hope that I always do.  It's fun and when did that become childish?
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