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What do you write when you don’t believe in the word? For many years as a child, I learned the word, but it was a “numb” word, one that existed, but it didn’t make sense or have any meaning to it. It was a word we learned in school and it represented months on a calendar. But it was nothing special, nothing different. It’s not something routine in my city’s year. In New Orleans, in this area, we jokingly say that we have two true seasons: Summer and Summer Lite.
Autumn, I know it’s a season. I’ve seen it, but I don’t live it.
While everyone is enjoying the changing weather north of us, we are all gasping in the humidity and praying, praying the “cool front” will actually reach us this time and bring our temperatures to 89-90 degrees. Thus starts our Summer Lite.
Autumn normally brings thoughts of fall colors. I never understood that as a child. We don’t get changing leaves. Yes, we might get cooler, but we don’t get the vibrant hues of reds, yellows and oranges. Our streets don’t look like orchestrated flames or the sun’s rays dancing in front of a home.
When I was a little girl, my parents drove everywhere for vacations. They didn’t like to fly and in fact, they didn’t fly anywhere until after I took the first flight when I turned 21 years old.
One year, we drove during the autumn season, the first time in my youth. My mom excitedly told me, “It’s going to be a beautiful drive!”
I was ho-hum, ok, whatever you say. The Interstate part was always pretty boring to a child. But then, somewhere along the drive, my eyes were glued to the window “ohhhing” and “ahhhing” over the colors. I used to draw a lot when I was young and was rarely without pencil and paper. I grabbed my drawing book and created lines and lines of trees, coloring them in.
My brother laughed when he saw what I was doing, “The trees aren’t pink and blue.” I only had pastel colored pencils. It didn’t matter to me; I just knew the trees were in colors! Don’t the autumn leaves make the trees look like ladies with decorated hats?
It’s strange, though, isn’t it? Yes, we do get cooler, cool enough to have the change of leaves, but we don’t. The reason is… we have evergreen trees…lush, dark, thick, green oak foliage to keep the streets and homes cool during the stifling heat of summer.
In fact, in our autumn, this is when we start getting visitors. The summer heat is wearing thin and other than mid-day, the temperature is bearable. We do get some odd reactions from first time visitors from the north this time of year, “OH! Look at the green, everywhere! (this is often said after the vibrant fall leaves have … fallen… leaving barren naked trees) Wow, you have so much green here.”
But those words, after a few days, turn to, “Oh… I feel as though I’m evergreen overload. I’m being suffocated with all the green.”
I have cousins in northern states. Most of our family is in Louisiana. My cousin has remarked, “Part of me wishes I lived in New Orleans, because it’s like home there with all the family and having spent so much time in New Orleans. But honestly, I can’t stand the heat… and I’d really miss all the seasons.” I envy her seasonal experience!
Southerners plan vacations this time of year. “Oh, let’s go in October or early November to the mountains so we can see the fall colors.” Yes, we have to travel to see a season and we will make special plans in which to do so. We don’t plan around activities or events or festivals. We plan around the leaves. We will even call hotels and ask them if they think the leaves will turn early this year or not, because even though we don’t get the autumn colors, we have educated ourselves to know that rain will affect the turning early, just as much as the cool temperatures. And we want to play it “just so.” Yes, we can enjoy cool temperatures away from our heat, but we are on a quest for Colors!
(In fact, when my husband and I were dating, our first trip together was in October – cabin in the woods to see the fall colors. If you want a few giggles, click hereto read the post about that trip. If you make it to the end of the post, you’ll understand why we snicker whenever we go to a Cracker Barrel restaurant.)
Even our food is different because of the weather. I start seeing blog posts from northern states, “It’s autumn! I want to make a warm batch of soup!” Nothing warm do I want right now and not until our “summer lite” months which are end of December and if we are lucky, into early February. Soup? Right now? Just set it on the sidewalk and let it simmer.
And the fall decorations? Of course they are in all the stores, north and south. Yes, we have them. We love them. It’s the only way we get to experience everyone else’s beautiful harvest hues! Every year, I hang fall leaves in swags over all the windows and doorframes. I don’t care how hot it is outside; by golly it’s going to be fall inside!
I look forward to the day when my son will be able to enjoy and understand the “real” autumn season. But until then, each year, he will watch (and in the future help) mommy and daddy hang the red, gold and orange colors. He might wonder at first, but one day, he will remember his first experience with the season. I look forward to seeing the reflection of colors in his eyes. And I’m sure, I’ll also have the same look of awe.
We don’t take autumn for granted, so it’s always a blessing, never gets old and gives us the youthful return of wonder.