I love fall. I absolutely LOVE it! There are the chilly temps, skies so blue and bright you can’t stop looking, and the sound of leaves rustling in the cool breeze. Then come the crispness of that first frosty morning, the cozy feeling of settling into a warm bed covered with thick hand-quilted blankets and the pop and crackle of the season’s first fire in the fireplace. Plus, apples and pumpkins! Which brings to mind Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Of course my daughter, Bailey, informed me last year that it was not cool for me to order a “PSL.” Why? “Its SO white girl, Dad.” I order them anyway.
Fall also means leaving summer behind. And along with summer go the bugs; the smothering humidity; the dry, hot sun; the asphalt that radiates heat so hot it takes your breath. Not that I’ve had a bad summer. In fact, this summer has been wonderful. A few days were hot; but mostly the weather was mild. And with the unusual amount of rain we experienced, the fields and lawns never turned brown and crunchy. Another factor that made this summer special is that I reduced the days I work each week from five to three. Now I’m off more days each week than I work! I feel almost retired. These additional days off have given me more time to do things I love – like spending time with my beautiful bride of 32 years and putting more miles on my bicycle.
But, in general, I’m not a “summer” guy. In fact, summer is my least favorite season. And fall is, without question, my favorite season. (My ranking of the seasons would be 1. Fall, 2. Winter, 3. Spring, 4. Summer). Each year, as summer draws to a close, the excitement begins to build. The first sign that fall is near at hand is when I see the school buses emerge from their long summer hibernation. Simultaneously, across our back fence, the once empty school yard becomes joyfully noisy with the sound of children’s laughter and their excited squeals. Soon thereafter, on particularly clear days, we can hear the distant sound of trumpets and the beating of drums as a marching band practices in preparation for the start of football season. And sure enough, Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons are soon filled with the quite roar of football fans in nearby stadiums.
And speaking of football, fall is when the long summer sports drought draws to a close and the excitement of college and professional football reignites our stadiums and televisions. (If you didn’t get a chance, read my recent football-related blog here.) And with football in full tilt, we know its only a short time before horse racing gets underway at Keeneland’s fall meet. And after that, BASKETBALL! (And I haven’t even mentioned hunting; but more on that in an upcoming blog.)
The first fall frost is another event that I look forward to each year. Early in the season, the foliage of the trees responds colorfully to the shortening daylight hours. Later on the leaves succumb to the final blow of the freezing temperatures on those first frosty fall mornings. Likewise, the grass is not immune from the frigidity. The lawn and fields that have been actively growing since spring suddenly go dormant and will lie quietly in waiting until early spring when the cycle will begin once more.
I’ve always seen fall as the time when the outdoors undergoes a good, thorough cleaning. Most people associate spring, not fall, with cleaning and sprucing up. But in my mind, fall and early winter usher in the most aesthetically pleasing time of year. When the last leaves fall from the highest tree branches and the tall ground vegetation dies back, the landscape always seams clean and orderly. Many features hidden behind the foliage of spring and summer come into view and the summer haze no longer limits my visibility.
I love driving along the Bluegrass Parkway in late fall. The tidy brownish-gray knobs somehow calm me. The clear lines made by the smooth, bare limbs of the hardwoods covering the hills are reassuring. Pasture boundaries are well defined by clearly visible fence lines free of the overgrowth of the warm summer.
The unique combination of cool dry air, brilliant sunshine set in a deep blue sky and the vivid orange, red, and yellow color of the leaves often unexpectedly brings to mind rich memories of cutting firewood with by dad and brothers or hunting squirrels in the wood’s behind my grandfathers house. Fall’s distinctive feel also evokes recollections of some of my favorite memories of high school: being a member of our high school marching band and performing at fall band contests and half-times of our high school football games.
I suppose I have rambled on long enough about my favorite season. In closing, let me apologize to those of you who are not so fond of fall. For many, fall represents the prelude to clouds, colder temperatures and, I hate to even mention it, ice and snow. I suppose I am somewhat sympathetic. Come mid-February, I too will be craving sunny skies and warmer temps. But until them, I’ll watch football, drink PSLs (sorry, Bailey) and enjoy my warm bed at night. Happy fall, everybody!