As August takes one of its last heaving sighs, it lets out all that heavy air it has left within. It breathes in and out slowly yet methodically, taking in precious hours of daylight and swallowing them up whole, exhaling out the cool breeze that ushers in autumn. Once September arrives, the familiar lush green carpets and skyscrapers of yore leisurely fade to shades of browns, reds, and yellows. Endless days of sunshine turn to crisp windswept mornings and lackadaisical weekend afternoons that smell quintessentially like apples and pumpkins.
We affectionately disregard “Autumn” as the name of this new friend we’re playing with and we call her “Fall.” It is a title better suited for her. It is a moniker that means more than a literal tumble or drop. Such is a time so full of opportunity and double entendres. Students everywhere are falling back into rhythms of books, pencils, and desk chairs. You can almost smell the freshness, the excitement – the fear. Perhaps this will be the year they learn algebra or maybe it will be the year they lose their innocence. Young lovers are tragically falling out of love, the heavy heat gone from both the night air and their slow beating hearts. Conversely, those sidelong glances of mere acquaintances have others falling into love. These hopefuls believe the weeks to come will be as ripe as blackberries awaiting picking, bulbous and patient.
Some feel the incoming chill on their cheeks as a cheerless acknowledgement of another season coming to a close. They find solace as they delve into the depths of their closets after all this time, bringing their beloved sweaters and careful knits close to heart. Smelling faintly of old perfumes mixed with dust, the fabric will at long last feel body heat. Skin will no longer be exposed but rather safely protected under a sheath of scratchy wool or soft suede. Garments will be flaunted to the public, no hulking jacket or covering to obstruct it from view. Fall is considerate and she keeps her temperature perfectly tepid, she has no use for mittens and parkas. It is a time when fashion and functionality will flirt happily and comfortably. They will suddenly believe they can grow old together – only to break up tragically in the frigid winter months and then rediscover one another upon the next summer’s end, exhaustingly year after year after year.
Sadly, even with all its glorious temperaments, those with musical prowess neglect Fall. There are seldom songs written about her or her beauty. She lay unloved and forgotten, the symphonic equivalent to Miss Havisham. It leads those who hold her dear to be quite curious as to why Nat King Cole’s lyrics are so beloved; the delicious crunch of leaves under foot is much more satisfying than watching chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Perhaps the latter seems more romantic as assorted couples cozying up under blankets come to mind but the former certainly has more memory. What have those leaves witnessed this year? What mysteries lie within their crackled, chlorophyll veins? They come into this world for only a brief sojourn and then like soldiers fallen in battle, they lay on the ground lifeless and fragile until an outside force picks them up and carts them away. They receive enchanting eulogies, sung by lingering cicadas and the occasional passing gull but as the songs fade away, the world goes silent and the one certainty we have known from the beginning is suddenly upon us. Fall shivers as she bids us farewell, frolicking away, leaving in her wake the icy finish to yet another year.