The pall of fall

I like fall. I really do. But every year I spend the end of summer dreading the change in the weather. Labor Day passes, and with each gradual cool I’m hoping the temperature will bounce back up instead of enjoying the decline.

This doesn’t really make sense because so much of fall I love. Caramel apples, apple orchards and apple picking. Corn mazes and haunted houses. Carving pumpkins and dressing up for Halloween. Eating soup and drinking hot cider. That crispness in the air and the perfect weather for jeans and a sweatshirt. Fall colors. Football. And I have a strange need to rake leaves every year.

I love all that stuff. So why can’t I enjoy fall? The answer is one simple word: winter. Winter, with long hours of darkness and weeks of gray skies. With freezing temperatures and slippery sidewalks. With death-warmed-over paleness and susceptibility to germs. With cracked skin and staticky hair. With dead grass and barren trees. I dread fall because it means winter is coming, and I just can’t ever get past that. And since I’ve grown up suffering through seven-month Chicago winters, can you really blame me? It gets dark at 4 p.m., the sun doesn’t shine for months and below 0 temperatures are the norm.

Worst of all, we don’t really get fall – or spring, for that matter. Usually it takes about two weeks to jump from 70s to 40s, and that really puts a damper on enjoying a lot of those wonderful fall things. The lovely transition period doesn’t exist, so I don’t get much time to be comfortable in just jeans and sweaters, to enjoy a corn maze, to go pick apples. Instead, we get a jarring, frigid slap in the face.

But it’s not quite like that in Missouri. Summer sticks around a little longer, winter doesn’t last so terribly long, and fall and spring actually exist. That’s one of the big reasons I enjoy being here so much: I get four seasons to enjoy, and the beginning of school doesn’t mean the beginning of the descent into the tundra. So as much as the coming of winter is hanging over my head, this fall I’m going to keep myself outside as much as possible, relish the crisp breeze on my face and make sure I don’t look down as I walk by trees. I’m going to try really hard, once again, to enjoy it.

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