Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall brings out our true colors

Thirty days has September, April, May, and November. All the rest have thirty-one [except Februrary] but if I truly had my way, the month of October would be 300 days long.
If there was ever a time of the year that I would want to bottle up and have to myself all year long, it’s the month of October when nature puts on its finest show for all of the senses. The smell of the leaves, the sight of the first frost on the pumpkin, the taste of hot mulled cider, the sound of bare trees blowing in the wind, and of course the feel of stick jabbing you in the leg when you jump into the leaf pile.
Honestly, I get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it, even the stick. When October rolls around, I morph into some other person, a person who lives and breathes to embrace every aspect of the season. Like most of us who are tired of painting our toenails and shaving our legs, I welcome the return of long pants and closed toed shoes quite happily. Not only that, but I like to pretend I’m a fashion model for one of those hip stores where everyone is strangely warm wearing only a flannel shirt and a vest, even though 99% of the time my body is comfortable but my arms feel like they’re going to snap off like icicles when a stiff wind blows by.
My kids are suddenly forced to wear hats and gloves out of nowhere because maybe at some point their mother will be cold and which automatically means they should don extra gear regardless of their own temperature.
Soup becomes a staple in our house like none other, and as head chef everything that comes out of my kitchen errors on the side of “comfort food” because when the temperature first starts to drop, we collectively as a society shun the grilled hot dog and coleslaw, having eaten one too many. We fill our bellies with stick-to-your-ribs dinner and desserts, operating under the assumption that more pumpkin is obviously better.
Come October, we drink more hot beverages, we make more campfires. With all of the early darkness, we start hunkering down for the winter like bears slipping into hibernation before their time. Knitting needles and thick novels comes out because what else does one do with all that free time now that the lawn no longer needs mowed so often?
All of this inside warmth and comfy coziness does one thing: It makes us feel good and feel whole. It makes me feel true and real, which is, I think, the way it was truly intended to be if we look to the reason for the season.
Fall is fall because of the crazy Earth tilt thingy, but most of us know it as the time of year when the leaves change color and fall off the trees. But most people don’t know why the leaves change color. Technically, they don’t change color, they just show their true color. Overtaken by the greenness of chlorophyll all spring and summer long, it’s not until the temperatures drop and the sun goes down that the tree cuts off all of the extra chlorophyll that it needs when it’s making food during the summer. Once the powerful green goes away, what’s left is what color it was all along, underneath.
Sure, it dries up, dies and falls off, but for those few beautiful days in the month of October, the bright showy colors of fall dance for us in all of their glory, waving around in the angled sunlight before their final plummet.
And I for one, will be wearing my own true colors, cuddling my kids in fleece blankets by a campfire, watching them fall with rake primed and ready, surely to have a pot of chicken soup on the stove to warm my freezing, yet trendy, arms.

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