I’ve already said I hate summer so many times I’m sure I’m on Satan’s shortlist of souls he’d like to meet and greet — permanently. Hating summer is like seeing an ugly baby and then actually saying it: everybody kinda agrees with you, but nobody’s on your side. However, as the man said, “If you’re going to Hell anyway, you might as well just keep driving.” So summer might not actually suck — all the time — but here are 5 reasons why I prefer autumn.
Autumn is active — When summer is over, you can actually do things again — like walking down the street or standing waiting for a bus — without feeling like a tributary of the Amazon is flowing down the back of your shirt and into your underwear.
Autumn is cozy — There is nothing better than a fuzzy sweater on a chilly evening. And is there anybody in this world who doesn’t like fat, warm socks? These are two of life’s priceless little pleasures that release tons of endorphins. Unfortunately, they’re not available to us when the temperature is 36 degrees in the shade — and there ain’t no shade. It is my considered opinion that the lack of fuzzy sweaters and fat socks is why people in desert countries are so grouchy all the time.
Autumn moves — Summer doesn’t move. It just lies on you like a Hot Fudge Quilt. Autumn, on the other hand, lives on the breeze. You can taste it in the early morning, fresh as that first cup of coffee. It plays in the trees like Peter Pan having a giggle. It swirls and twirls tiny tornados of leaves at your feet, teases your hair like a casual lover and sends you to bed with an extra blanket tucked up to your chin.
Autumn is made of soup — There is only so much cremated cow a man can stand. Autumn is the time for great cauldrons of things that sound and bubble and fill up the house with steam and smell and plenty; served in great bowls with bread or in a thick mug, balanced just right between you and your book.
Autumn is serious — When the temperature starts to drop in the Northern Hemisphere, we all have this weird cultural memory that “Winter is Coming” and it’s going to try to kill us. We don’t lay in stocks of food and firewood anymore, but we do subconsciously put away the toys of summer and assemble our tools. That’s why God made “Back to School” sales.
When you’re just past forty and ex-husband/childless, you take October seriously. It’s time to haul out the big socks, buy a few books and start planning the excuses to avoid Thanksgiving with the family. It’s time to shop – for dinner party wine and those old-fashioned Christmas cards because it’s fun to be the old-fashioned aunt. It’s time to go back to the park – crisp-cold and quiet. Walk home in the dark. And make all-day Sunday soup that simmers the entire apartment until the guests arrive. It’s time to hide the summer clothes and put a tea towel over the bathroom scales and think about yoga – in January. It’s time to devour pages of Nordic detectives, deep into the twilight of an early afternoon. It’s time to drink kick-off-your-heels tea and check what’s on TV. It’s time to take your lunch in a thermos and go for drinks after work and fend off well-meaning blind dates. It’s not that she didn’t like well-meaning blind dates; they were fun, too. But when one turns into two and two turns into more, it’s better to move on before normal turns into a nuisance. The truth was she had no intention of taking on the open-ended responsibility of making someone else happy, because she was already happy, perfectly content to be covered by her own life like a cozy knitted afghan thrown over her shoulders. Content to choose her own friends, never wash anybody else’s underwear or negotiate what to have for dinner – especially on the nights when it was going to be sweatpants and ice cream and Rosamund Pike. She was content to do what she wanted, when she wanted — without lame explanations or nagging regrets.
Of course, she did have some regrets. She’d gone to university like all the women in her family and had had high expectations. She thought it would be nice to live in a retro-poor apartment with too many stairs and a cat named Sniffles. Maybe have some adventures. Maybe be seduced by a poet who would leave her broken when he went back to his own bohemian tribe. Then collect all his verses and put them in a shoebox at the back of the closet for her children to find. But instead, she’d settled for four years in a dorm room — plastic and new — and sex with a waiter, a boyfriend and Rachel’s brother Danny (but she’d married him, so that didn’t count.) She did have a shoebox, though, but there were no secrets in it and no children to find it, so…. Sometimes, she thought she should regret the years of her marriage – but she never did. It had been serious and it had been fun, and she hadn’t overstayed her welcome, moving on before she’d completely lost herself in their married routines. Although she did wish she’d taken the bread maker – that would have been nice. But she was young then and unaware that, after some months alone, on a chilly kick-leaf October morning, she’d fall in love with her own future, and, like a fairytale princess, live happily ever after.
Somewhere in a slate grey morning, fog-deep in the quilts and pillows, they decided to be friends. It was in the middle of her Vonnegut years, (so there was that) but mostly it was a hedge against the growing November darkness. She secretly vowed to learn how to cook (but didn’t mean it) and he considered writing poetry (but didn’t do it.) Mostly, it was buttoned-up coats and kicking leaves, and once, they got lost in their own town when they went walking without watching. Sometimes, they dreamed of dusty old bookshops full of dusty old books with finger-worn pages and faded covers, and they wondered how romantic that would be. But she had a library card, and it was three stops on the bus, so they spent their Saturdays curled in the bedroom, reading books they didn’t have to search for. There was an old-fashioned restaurant, though, with bow-tied waiters and empty tables, that turned the lights on in the late afternoon. It was on the way home, so they would stop there and have hot soup or old world meat pies. Sometimes, they would bring their own candles and would order one dessert with two forks and drank wine — so they could explain things to each other. And that was romantic enough for them. Along the way, he taught her French (because that’s what he did) and she taught him numbers (because that’s what she loved.) After a while, they decided they liked walking in the rain and, forever after, looked forward to cloudy days. Once she went home for her brother’s wedding, and the sun shone large and cold every day, and he missed her and slept on her side of the bed. She brought him back a piece of the cake with a squashed red rose on it. She said she was sorry for squashing the rose, so he ate it to be polite. One Sunday, they decided to go to church (just in case) and one night, for no reason they could remember, they ended up listening to French jazz in a damp basement club. Occasionally, they would have other adventures as well, but they both knew they mostly preferred buttoned-up coats and walking in the rain – so that’s what they mostly did. Even after she got over Kurt Vonnegut and got a job teaching mathematics; even after they moved to a bigger apartment; even after they were married and had children and bought a car and had to cut the grass and had regular vacations; even after the years scattered behind them like autumn leaves in the November breeze. Even after all that, the thing they loved the most was buttoned-up coats and walking in the rain — because one slate grey morning, fog-deep in the quilts and pillows, they decided to be friends.