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.