In this column, a couple weeks past, I was waxing philosophical regarding autumn - caught up in the idyllic imagery of swishing in leaves, gazing at forests that seem ablaze with color, and how autumn is my favorite season of the year. That statement might need a caveat.
It came to me during the week past when I picked up the grandkids after school. Our granddaughter asked me what my favorite season of the year is. I immediately responded with fall. Her brother chimed in to say that fall is his favorite season, as well. Her face fell a bit before she averred, “I like summer best.” It wasn’t just the idea that she might enjoy validation of her choice that brought me up short. It dawned on me that I enjoy fall, but I only enjoy it when it’s nice outside. In fact, I enjoy it extremely when it is summerlike - temps in the 60s or so, sunshine, and never, ever, anything wet falling – not rain, not sleet, not hail, not snow. Dry. I do not enjoy it when it is wet – raining, sleeting, hailing, snowing - and come to think of it, fall is often precipitous, meaning it offers an abundance of precipitation. (I think I may have just made up that definition; I’m pretty certain the dictionary says something different, but I digress.) So, is autumn really and truly my favorite season of the year?
Her question, asked in all innocence, caused me to ponder, what does Karen like about autumn? The colors, definitely - the colors of autumn leaves are a palette most extraordinary. The scent, too. It’s spicy (not pumpkin spicy necessarily, although many will disagree), but spicy according to my personal sense of smell. The wind, too. Wind fascinates me. Not heavy winds that knock things over such as trees and powerlines. Nor do I hanker after being a tornado chaser, ala Helen Hunt’s character in the movie “Twister.” But I do like wind in every season, excluding icy blasts when the temps are at minus 50 degrees and there are tip-ups set on frozen lakes. In autumn, however, there is a special feel to the wind. In my family we call it the sweet/sour wind. Please don’t ask me to explain why it has that name, it just does. It just is. Perhaps because it is still warm with only a hint of chill? That’s as close as I can come to defining it adequately. But standing on the porch, with my hair being tossed and the spicy scent enveloping me, is magic. Some things defy explanation. My birthday? Well, not so much any longer. When I was a kid it was a special dinner and a cake, homemade by mom and always my favorites. As I’ve gotten older, it’s meant less and less besides the sure march of time that will not stand still, or even pause for a fraction of a second, regardless of my wishes.
A good case can be made for my being an autumn lover, but what about the other three? Do I mope my days away simply awaiting fall? What about winter? What about spring? What about summer? In truth I do enjoy all the seasons. Winter is full of outdoor pursuits some people don’t have an opportunity to take part in - snowshoeing, gliding (or falling) on a frozen lake atop steel blades, sledding, and roasting marshmallows over a brushfire. Then there’s Christmas. How many of us don’t love the Christmas season!? Spring can be glorious too. It’s the only season that I don’t mind wet. Sailing a stickboat in a roadside ditch, or puddle-jumping; finding the first bloom pushing through a late snowfall. Summer is awesome. Sunshine (we hope), heat (we hope), campfires, bicycling, and foraging for berries - beginning with strawberries and ending with blackberries - if we’re lucky. Yum. Croquet and badminton on the lawn. Hanging the wash at the crack of dawn. Thunderstorms rumbling through the night. Ah, yes.
Guess there is much to love in every season, but I’m sticking with autumn as the favorite. Truth be told, it’s in the wind.