According to that thing called astronomy, the 2002 autumnal equinox arrives on Thursday, September 22. This date marks the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, where I live. While scientifically, that is correct, I say screw that! As far as I am concerned, Autumn, or Fall, began yesterday on September 1.
Growing up, my family has all sorts of fun little traditions. One of our traditions that many people shared was to consider the day after Labor Day as the start of Fall. Growing up, that Tuesday was the first day of school, up until my Junior year in high school when we started in late August. There was this association that summer was over with the beginning of school. It didn't matter that September in Texas could still have some sweltering days. We were in school, so Fall was here.
My mother is a seasonal decorator, and Autumn was no exception. Pumpkins appeared. Orange, yellow, red, and brown colored items dominated the house. Decorations in the shape of leaves, corn stalks, and scarecrows were scattered about. Sometimes, even though we lived in the suburbs, hay bales were delivered. It always amazed me how adding Fall elements can transform a place. There is something about the brightness of the deep colors that will take even a drabbish place and make it feel like a place of warmth. A simple arrangement like in the photo can transform the entrance to a house from "here is where you enter" into "welcome!"
When the calendar turned to October 1, Halloween items appeared. Pumpkins became Jack-O-Lanterns. Ghosts, spiders, mummies, bats, and all the glorious spookiness roamed freely through our home. The porch light changed from normal to orange or red bulbs. At my aunt and uncle's house, orange houselights lined the roofline, illuminating the darkness in the glowing radiance that shouted, "muahahaha!" October is my favorite month, and Halloween is my favorite holiday. It is such a great time of the year because, in Texas, this is when it starts to feel Fall-ish. Crisp, cool air, bright blue skies, and excitement building. Jeans and hoodies/thermals. Football is in full swing. The Texas State Fair is rolling. Oh, my birthday is in October, too. Be sure to add that to your calendar.
As the calendar flipped to November, the turkeys replaced the spookies. Thanksgiving decor was everywhere as we prepared for the greatest Thursday in America. I can still recall the smell and sounds of the preparation of Thanksgiving feasts in the home. And when the big day arrived, it was often the other kind of awesome Autumn weather: kind of cold, kind of gloomy. It paired perfectly with the incredible food, the gathering of beloved family, and topped off with the Dallas Cowboys in the afternoon and Texas A&M vs. Texas that night. It remained like this until the next morning when the home went through a radical transformation into a winter wonderland over the course of a day or two. That, however, is a story for another time.
During this magical period growing up, there were always the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, wood fires, burning leaves, soups, and strews, mixed with the growing chill of crisp, cool air. There is a reason why Autumn is the favorite time of year for so many of us. It's experiences like these that make it so grand.
As I grew up, I carried some of these things into adulthood. It wasn't until I got married and started a family that these things came out. My wife isn't much of a decorator, and they didn't go out for Fall as we did. Thankfully, she let me have at it because she enjoys how the place looks and smells when I do. The kids also loved it as they grew up. It was a magical part of my childhood that I shared with them, even though they always started school in mid-August.
All the time, I would decorate on Labor Day weekend so that Tuesday, it was Fall.
Consumerism tries to manipulate the seasons, creating aggravation for me. Two weeks ago, the grocery store near me started putting out pumpkin spice cookies, pumpkin spice Cheerios, pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin spice, everything! At least the Starbuck inside the store didn't advertise pumpkin spice until yesterday, so hats off to them for waiting until September started. The local Costco, on the other hand, those idiots already have Christmas stuff out. Fuck you, Costco!
Anyway, I like to hold onto my traditions, but if I feel it is appropriate, I will make alterations. Kicking off Autumn on September 1 in an alteration I made because living in Texas, by September 1, we are so done with summer, even though September is still hot. Maybe it's a psychological coping mechanism to survive, but even if it is 105 outside, it's Fall, damnit! The problem I sometimes run into is that it may be several days before I am free to decorate (thanks, job!) However, I do one thing that signals Fall is on: I swap out the coffee mugs.
These mugs are my favorite mugs! I use them from September 1 through Thanksgiving, except when I use my Halloween mugs in October. Being a black coffee drinker, it just looks wonderful seeing that dark magic through the glass. The leaves are beautifully etched. I originally had two of these for nearly twenty years, one for my wife and one for me, when I dropped and broke the handle off of one of them. I was crushed, but last summer, I found a seller on eBay that had eight of them for $5! Sold American to the man with an exceptional beard!!!
Oh man, I need to brew a coffee right now and watch Autumn in my hand.
In the coming days, all the Autumn gear will come out, and the Fall attire will be moved to the front of my closet. My attitude about things is best this time of year because I spend more time outside, hanging out under the patio lights with a fire pit going. Soups and stews are simmering, hot drinks are waffling steam in the air, and the house windows are open, freshening up after several months of being shut and circulating air.
Thank God its Fall. Oh, how I missed you!