Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Cool Change

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What’s your favorite time of year?

My mother always used to say her favorite time of year was autumn. She thought perhaps it was because her birthday was in September. But I never understand how anyone could possibly love the fall, even though my birthday is in September, too.

For me, autumn meant going back to school (I hated school as a kid). It meant waking up to frigid wet mornings and dark grey skies and the looming gloom of endless winter to come. But summer… Ah, summer meant long carefree days of blue skies and golden warmth; it meant running through sun-kissed fields with my horse or curling up on a shady porch with a book. Even later, after I moved away from the frigid northwest, I still loved summer. Summer meant my girls home from school, days spent searching for seashells beside a roaring surf or exploring castles on a sunblasted Spanish hillside or hiking through the Australian bush.

Then I moved to New Orleans, where summer brings a wet suffocating heat that never relents, not even at night, along with a wary realization that a hurricane might be forming just over the horizon. It is my practice every morning when I wake up to throw open my doors and windows. The cats love it and it airs out the houses, but in the dog days of summer that humid blast of heat is a real penance I can tolerate for only so long. Well, this morning I opened the front door and literally squealed with delight as a soft cool breeze buffeted my face and actually raised goosebumps on my arms. Ah, I thought, fall at last!

And then I remembered my mother and how fall was always her favorite time of year, and for the first time I understood why that little girl growing up in New Orleans had loved autumn so much.

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14 comments:

Lainey said...

I didn't grow up on the Gulf Coast, but I did spend my first 22 years in the Deep South. I relate very well to your mother's autumn preference. As the years fly by, the less able I am to tolerate the intense heat/humidity of the Texas Gulf Coast.

Barbara said...

Your photos are stunning! Even though it meant going back to school and winter getting closer I have always loved the crispness of fall ... the crisp air, the scent of spices, the leaves. What can I say?

Steve Malley said...

Autumn's always been favourite with my inner Emo Drama Queen:Edgar Allen Poe and ghost stories, the beautiful decay of falling leaves and all that gloaming...

Summer's perfect for my Sunny Hedonist: cold drinks and long days and great parties and very, very few clothes...

Spring makes me wish I was more the garden-y type: all those blossoms and buds and blooms. And that first wave of girls shedding their winter layers for summery attire doesn't hurt...

But every, every, *every* part of me, from the marrow in my bones outward, despises winter.

Charles Gramlich said...

Autumn has long been my favorite, although it has a bittersweet quality for me. But yes, here, definitely!

Sphinx Ink said...

Autumn has always been my favorite season. Partly due to the sweltering heat of Louisiana summers (I don't tolerate heat well); perhaps because I always loved going back to school. Fall always feels like a fresh start and the prospect of good things happening. I just wish we could have beautiful fall colors in our foliage down here, like the photos you posted. Alas, the price we pay for having such temperate winters is that few of our flora turn bright colors.

By the way, Candy--Happy Birthday! (Just one day belated.) Hope you had a great day.

Pax Deux said...

Lovely post, very evocative. I am more of a spring/summer person myself,probably due to my winter phobia (I do hate to wear coats!)

and of course, echoing Sphinx...
"For you everything good for the entire year, and all the
success and joy that you hope for.
Happy Birthday!"

cs harris said...

Lainey, I've noticed the heat getting to me more than it used to, as well.

Barbara, I wish I could take credit for the photos, but they're not mine. We don't get a lot of fall color down here. Frankly, I find myself thinking more and more about retiring someplace farther north where they do have seasons like, say, Tennessee or North Carolina.

Steve, you're right, the different seasons to call to different parts of our selves. And yes, part of what made summer fun when I was younger was flashing some flesh!

Charles, yes, it is bittersweet, isn't it? A very nostalgic time of year.

Sphinx, I can't believe you loved going back to school! Thanks for the birthday wishes. I suspect my birthday is what had me thinking about my mom. I expected to miss her on HER birthday, but was blindsided by the way it hurt when my own birthday rolled around.

Pax Deux, as much as the Louisiana heat gets to me, I don't think I'll ever learn to embrace the cold. And thanks for your birthday wishes!

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

That's so funny. Autumn is definitely my season as well and that's coming from someone who grew up in a similar climate as New Orleans (Miami). We never had anything approaching autumn. Just Less Summer. I lived vicariously through ABC Afterschool Specials with their commercials showing kids frolicking through piles of yellow and red leaves and wearing tights and boots and sweaters. Coats, even.

So now I'm in the Northwest and while the weather's been cool at night for a few weeks, today, you could really feel the change in the season. It was as if this past weekend, along with the calendar changing months, the seasons decided it was time to follow suit.

Definitely my time of year.

cs harris said...

Barbara, I have to admit that it's chilly enough tonight that I'm already missing summer. I tend to keep my A/C set at 78-80, so it's going to take a few weeks to adjust. 65 feels freezing!

NikiB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NikiB said...

I would have to agree with everyone, I love the fall. I grew up in Kansas and the autumn there is beautiful. Now I live in the desert. We have Summer, a month of Winter, and then about 3 weeks of spring before summer rears its ugly head again. (Yes I did mean ugly)

I miss the smells in the air, and getting up and putting on thick fuzzy socks and sweaters. Fall is always a baking time for me too. I get the itch every year, and wind up fattening up my husband and kids with sweets. :) They don't seem to mind...

There is nothing better on an autumn night than having a cup of coffee, a good book, and some light jazz music in the background. *sigh*

orannia said...

Gorgeous photos. I love spring...the warm crispness in the air, the smell of freshly cut grass...hmmmm. I need to get into my garden - it's spring here :)

cs harris said...

NikiB, fall does seem to be a very nostalgic time of year. I find I really miss the falling golden leaves of my youth.

Orannia, do you know that after ten years I STILL sometimes get confused about what month/season I'm in? (I also occasionally have to give serious thought to which side of the road I'm supposed to be driving on.)

Firefly said...

I have just returned from travelling to your part of the world & I must admit, the intensity of the autumnal colours are truly glorious!!!! Your mother's preference is understandable!