Wherefore Art Thou, Autumn?

I like springtime. I like it a lot. In fact, I think we should have more if it.

I don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but Alabama law states we are allotted three minutes of spring a year.

This year, spring arrived as usual. Dogwoods were blooming. Bees were buzzing. Birds were chirping and doing their happy little bird dance. All was right with the world. (Well, my bank account needed some TLC, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. Happy birds disco dance, bees doing their thing, yadda yadda, yadda. Then, summer blew in like an ornery old bull, and spring disappeared faster than Jimmy Hoffa. After months of unbearable heat that would make your grandma spout a few naughty words, summer appears to be shuffling down the street with bags packed, and autumn is about to fall.

We hope.

When I was a young whippersnapper, I actually enjoyed summer. Sure, it was hot as Hades back in the Stone Age, but we either didn’t notice or we just didn’t give a flying rat squirrel. We had Slip N’ Slides, kiddie pools, garden hoses, and some guy running around in a giant pitcher of Kool-Aid costume. The sun quaked in fear when we strolled outside, our magnificent youthful 1970s chests thrust outward, our smooth brows shiny with beads of sweat. (Ever notice how people in the 70s were always sweating? Watch the movie White Lightning. Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, and Bo Hopkins looked like they’d just walked out of a sauna in every scene.)

We didn’t take heat from anybody.

Well, we took it, but we shrugged it off with a nonchalance that surpassed all prior displays in the history of nonchalant displays.

And lo, the Lord created October.

Yes, sir. October, from the Latin octo, meaning “eight,” it was the eighth month in the old Roman calendar, before January and February showed up later. Burnt orange and yellow leaves, that first cool snap in the air, pumpkins, caramel apples, schoolrooms festooned with midnight black cardboard silhouettes of witches riding brooms. Skies so blue they made your eyes water. The smell of pine burning in a fireplace. Squirrel hunting with my dad in the woods. Apple cider. Halloween masks strapped to your face with a rubber band. Linus making his annual argument for the existence of the Great Pumpkin.

I miss those days. I miss the school Halloween carnivals and bobbing for apples. I miss trick-or-treating, then sorting through the bag for your favorite chocolate bars or Charms Blow Pops. I miss sitting in the bleachers at Parrish High pep rallies on Friday afternoons, and the school band playing All I Ever Need Is You and A Taste of Honey.

I miss being chased through a “haunted house” by a masked ghoul with a chainsaw. I miss sitting with friends in a car at night, watching the windows in Doc Snow’s old place for signs of ghosts as Michael Jackson’s Thriller played on the radio. I miss tiptoeing like Shaggy and Scooby through Easley Cemetery in the dead of night, and then running out of gas as we reached the Jasper city limits. I miss riding in the bed of my friend Glen Dale’s truck down curvy gravel roads near Carbon Hill on a crisp fall night. I miss marshmallow and wiener roasts.

But I’ll tell you one thing.

Fall weather needs to get here, pronto. You’re not supposed to perspire during the month of October. It’s just un-American.

And you can tell the Great Pumpkin I said so. 78



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