I am overheating, but refusing to relent as I take another sip of my long-awaited pumpkin-spiced beverage. My lightest sweatshirt sits slung loosely around my waist, a vague hint towards what was, at one point, a cooler morning. There was a welcome chill that melted into an uncomfortably warm afternoon. In my mind, now is the perfect time for a colder autumn to make an appearance. I am bound and determined to make the season shift to fall, if only because I am mentally manifesting the sweater weather and soup season.
Now, before the witch hunt progresses too far, let me explain the fall that I am longing for. It is not all things pumpkin spice (although I do enjoy a latte or two), nor is it the early appearance of all things spooky and skeleton-y. It is a fall solidly stuck in the middle – that narrow window before October where the focus is the change, the shift of the seasons.
It is a progression from iced coffees to hot apple cider and soccer games that no longer require sunglasses but instead a light jacket and a thermos in hand. It is that window of fall that is signaled by the arrival of the big yellow bus. The onslaught of the first day of school photos filling your social media feeds. Followed closely by the highly celebrated start of snack and sweats Sunday, or as my husband calls it, football Sunday.
In my neighborhood, there is a broad spectrum of celebrators. Some houses are gleaning the last drop of summer, catching rays in their shorts and sandals regardless of the weather, sneaking in those last trips out to the river while they still can. These are the neighbors who are diligently nursing their baskets, coaxing another round of blooms from their petunias and summer annuals with our Flower Power, soaking in the last rays before the winter chill takes over.
Other houses have started to reveal their orange-themed hoards en mass. Large stacks of jack-o-lanterns appear stacked neatly by the red and gold wreath adorning the front steps. They did not hesitate as they ripped all evidence of summer out of their planters. The pansies and mums have made their appearance. The bales of hay and the first pumpkins have been spotted.
Most of the neighborhood, myself included, lay directly in the middle of the spectrum. We have certain porch pots that have started to brown out, and just the tips of the leaves show a hint of red but remain steadfastly on the tree. We are waiting to hang the wreath and stack the pumpkins until the feeling of fall has settled into our bones. In the meantime, we are not out attempting to save the last moments of our summer baskets.
The embrace of the season is experienced in vastly different ways, as seen on my street. But it is not a worry. Each style is equally accepted in the neighborhood, as long as we do not discuss the best time to hang up Christmas lights. Fall is an acceptable season to go all out and decorate to your heart’s content. It is also a season where significant changes can be seen, and a lack of decoration is equally acceptable.
Ultimately, in my neighborhood experience, fall is a feeling. It is a sense of urgency that hits us all at different times. An almost animalistic urge to gather for the winter, prepare for the cold, and enjoy the change surrounding us, knowing that the shedding of summer’s skin will only allow spring to be that much more enjoyable.