I know that’s not a popular thing to say. I know that summer is when things grow and thrive and flowers bloom and people are happy and the living is easy and fish are jumping and blah blah blee bloo.
And I know that fall is when leaves decay and gardens fade and mortality gets all up in your face because things just start dying all over the dang place. And that this is supposed to be a bad thing that should make me feel sad.
And I am aware that the vast majority of people in this world really, truly, inexplicably prefer things like bright sun and hot heat and long days and short pants.
Ew. Just: Ew.
I enjoy none of these things. I merely tolerate summer, and I spend the whole three or four eternal months of the damn thing endlessly tapping my feet and checking my watch and wondering when it will be time for things to be good again. And come August, I am perhaps just a little bit impatient already, and I begin to look, prematurely, for Signs.
Seriously. I stood in front of the magazine rack at the grocery store tonight for a good half hour, willing there to be at least one issue with a solid back-to-school story, or a fall fashion preview, or a fall foliage tour roundup, or something dammit.
And I’m sure that this has something to do with how much I always loved school (well, once all that appalling middle school nonsense was over with), and how long I stayed in school, and how long I seriously believed that I was going to be a college professor and would never really leave school.
Here is the truth about fall: Good things happen in fall. Great things begin in fall. Fall is ripe with possibility, new ideas, plans, steps to be taken on the path to achievement!
Summer? Ugh. Summer is waiting, limbo, frightful, endless, stale passivity. Fall is action, movement, undertakings, verve. Fall makes things happen, it urges you on to greater things. Fall even provides you with the cool, sharp air necessary to enervate your limbs and make you want to keep moving, to walk briskly down leafy paths between tall, stone buildings with arched windows and worn wooden tables, on your way to the place you need to be in order to Take Steps! And Move Ahead! With Plans! Possibly while wearing an Awesome Shearling Jacket!
Fall has just always been my favorite season.
It helps that I live in New England, of course. The famous foliage that we get around here only really lasts for a few weeks, truth be told, and even less on Cape Cod, where we have many more evergreens and salt marshes than leafy, lush, deciduous trees, and so we never really achieve the vast sweeps of color that you see in, say, Vermont, or Western Mass.
But the days do get shorter, the winter squash and purple-topped turnips do appear in the grocery stores, and the sky does turn that super-saturated shade of deep, deep blue, the air turning sharp and rich. Smelling like woodsmoke, and football, and wool scarves and corduroy jackets and flannel sheets fresh from the dryer.
I realize that it is only August 7, and that I should try to live in the day.
But oh, how I do grow weary of summer. For lo, it is hot, and I am tired unto death of having the air conditioning on all the time. I’m tired of traffic and crowds and leaving the house an hour before I want to be at a coffee shop that is ten minutes away. And then not being able to find a seat in that same coffee shop because of all the dang people who don’t even live here taking up all of the dang seats and hogging all of the dang wifi.
I miss my seat by the window at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow, where I wrote most of a whole book last winter, while I watched the snow fall silently on the deserted parking lot behind the Orleans CVS.
That seat — my seat — won’t be available again until fall gets here.
So this time of year, I have a ritual. (To be fair, I have rituals for every time of year, and for pretty much every possible occasion, but that’s a topic for another day.) I go to the yarn shop and I buy some really expensive, purely decadent hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn in rich, fall colors, and I start knitting something with it.
Something tiny, and ultra-portable, so that I can shove it into my purse again when the traffic starts moving, or the ballgame is over, or the moment of desperation passes. Red, orange, cranberry, rust. The smallest, finest, most delicate of needles.
Usually I make socks for my hasten-the-fall project. This year, it’s an adorably weird old stocking cap — all long and floppy and fine-gauge and somewhat anachronistic and quite gloriously autumnal in word and in deed. Because by the time I am done with it, it will be fall and I will be wild with joy.
You might be sad, and I will be sad that you are sad, but I will also be completely overjoyed with the change in the seasons, with the shortening of days and the coming of winter and quiet and calm.
And in the meantime, I will carry my half-knit stocking cap around in my pocket, reaching down to caress it at intervals and from time to time, looking down and away and whispering soon.