An acquaintance told me the other day that she doesn't like autumn.
"I find it sad," she said.
My first impulse was to reply, "Sad? Autumn? What are you, nuts?
Autumn is great. There is a chill in the air. Leaves change color.
And the football season is still young enough to pretend that even
my beloved, heartbreaking Philadelphia Eagles might not implode."
But before I spoke, she filled the empty space. "Everything turning
brown, the days turning dark." She turned her gaze toward the
window. "It's sad."
Feeling obligated to see what she was seeing, I looked out the
window, too. If you're into sun and warmth and daylight, then,
okay, she had a point.
"Yeah," I replied. "I guess it is."
But sadness may be exactly what I like about this time of year.
I live in the Washington, D.C., area, a place that gets a pretty
good autumn. Big, old maple trees line the sidewalks and canopy the
streets, splashing color everywhere. But for years before we moved
here, I'd pined for autumn like a cat pawing at a screen door to go
outside. I was stuck in Texas, where fall is bypassed on the way
from an endless summer (not what the Beach Boys had in mind when
they wrote that phrase, believe me) to the rainy season, January,
then onto summer again.
Having grown up in the North, I desperately missed fall. Not just
the leaves changing color, but the whole fall thing: the smell of
wood smoke rising from chimneys, the roadside cider stands, the
crispness in the air. So, year after year, I managed to escape
Texas to go see fall.
Maine, of course, that quintessential autumn state, was a perennial
favorite. I took my wife there for our honeymoon. Before we got
married, she argued that Texas did, too, have fall. She pointed out
a peach-complected leaf on this tree and, darn if she wasn't
right, a maroon leaf on that one. "See?" she'd say.