I’ve always been an autumn baby. Odd, perhaps, coming from someone who grew up in Miami where we had two seasons: hot and hotter still. Okay, not completely true. Generally, any time from December to March you’d have a handful of those spectacularly gorgeous days—in the sixties and seventies, the humidity relatively low, the sky crystal clear, with a beautiful breeze blowing salt-scented air in off the Atlantic. It made one understand exactly why old Henry Flagler cut through miles of swamp to build his railroad down to South Florida.
Not enough to make up for the rest of the year. Not in my universe. I am so not a hot weather girl. I can cope with it if I’m in the middle of something entertaining. Like when I was in band or corps—fourteen hour days in scorching temperatures and off-the-charts humidity were just something that went with the territory and for me, the payoff was worth it, so I dealt. But you never found me on the beach or out by the pool on a day off. Just sitting there, sweating and sticking to everything? *bleah*
I always had deep, deep envy of the carefree kids running through autumn leaves in all the back-to-school commercials they’d show during the breaks of ABC Afterschool Specials. I wanted desperately to frolic through drifts of red and orange and gold leaves, wearing wool jackets and plaid skirts and tights and boots. So the older I got, the more I began gradually making my way north. First, Tallahassee, which didn’t have a huge fall season, but we did have leaves that turned for a day or so before falling off in one fell swoop. Then there was Nashville, which had more of a season, although we also weirdly tended to have a freeze sometime in late September before the temperatures returned back to the 80s for a while in October. A little multiple personality disorder, but still… we had a definite cooling off of temperatures. Eventually.
Then came Ohio. Oh, Hudson, how gorgeous are you in the fall? It was in Ohio, too, that I realized I had a little internal something that responded to the change in season. I could just feel it— a subtle change in the air, a certain feel to it, as if everything around me was lightening, shedding the heat and oppression of summer, and fueling the world with a renewed sense of energy. I know that probably sounds odd, since so many people see that sloughing off as the preparation for the the Northern Hemisphere to descend into hibernation for the winter, but for me, it was a sense of total renewal. And it’s like a switch would go off within me and I’d go into hyperdrive. In that kind of weather, I’m more inclined to get out and about, enjoying the crisp air, breathing in the woodsmoke scent as people would light their first fires, savor the crackling of leaves underfoot.
It was in Ohio when I first began writing with the intent of pursuing it as a career and I found that fall and winter were my most productive times. I mean, just crazy-insane productive. Then we moved back to Florida. And trust me, Jacksonville, while it can have some wicked cold temps in the winter, has very little resembling fall. Especially after having lived in Ohio for ten years. I didn’t realize quite how depressing I found it until we first visited Seattle last year. (A year ago this week, as a matter of fact.)
I stepped off the plane and felt it—the switch going off, my energy level rising exponentially, my mood rising along with it. I think somewhere deep in my subconscious I decided, even before we set foot in any of the houses we were looking at, that we would move. Luckily, the Hub was on board with that and here we are. And I’m sitting here at my desk on the first day of autumn, although I felt the switch go off a few days ago, standing outside with my dogs, breathing deep.
Only the barest hint of yellow and orange is beginning to touch the leaves, but I know it’ll happen and that knowledge is as much a comfort as the actuality of it happening. So if you’ll excuse me—I’m feeling the urge to write.