This morning when I stepped outside, there was a brisk quality to the air that was not there yesterday. I wore flats with no socks, and as a cool breeze wafted over the tops of my feet, I realized…oh yeah, it’s fall.
Fall in California is fairly unremarkable. The shift from summer is practically imperceptible. It’s a few degrees cooler and you can order pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. In late fall we may see some rain. That’s about it.
But fall in New England…Oh! Fall in New England. It’s pure magic. You can actually smell the change of seasons—one day it’s warm honeysuckle, the next, a faint wisp of chestnut and hickory. It begins with one tree timidly showing its colors in early September. By the end of the month, the rest have followed, bursting with brilliant fiery reds, tangerine oranges, and mustard yellows.
The apples in the orchards are ripe and ready for picking. Hay rides, bales of golden delicious, warm apple cider with a dash of cinnamon. A good thick scarf to wrap around your nose, which is just starting to become slightly tender with the cold. Apple pies. Pumpkins. Your mom breaks out the seasonal decor, filling the mantle with gourds and corn varietals and folksy-looking scarecrows.
By mid-October, the yard is littered with fallen leaves that crunch under your feet. As a child, I would rake up a huge pile next to a tree, climb up, and leap into the leaves with total abandon. As I emerged from the pile, now flattened and scattered, I’d giggle as I pulled twigs out of my hair, racing to rake the leaves into a heap once more.
But soon, all too soon, the coolness turns cold. Cozy light sweaters and pea coats must be traded for multiple layers of bulk; mittens and hats to be worn at all times. The trees become barren, their lonely branches reaching up helplessly into the dimly-lit skies. The ground hardens and becomes unyielding. And then…the endless winter.
I miss fall in New England down to my very own apple core. But I do not miss what follows. So enjoy your bright leaves and hot cocoa with marshmallows now, New Englanders! Because pretty soon, you’ll be looking at this:
While it’ll still be this for me: