Let Autumn Pull You Outdoors

The Pull of Autumn

It is difficult to resist the pull of Autumn. I am susceptible to advertising and September marks the month when I acknowledge, after a few shopping trips, that to save my wallet I had better avoid stores until January.
I still strive to experience each season in its own time. Has Autumn begun?

My husband informs me September 20 is the first day of Autumn. Some others wait to celebrate the turn of the season on Michaelmas (September 29). Others will wait for the first pumpkin sighting at the fruit stands.
The cool air beckons me in the morning to sit on my couch, wrap myself in the vibrantly-colored afghan made by my paternal grandmother, lounge and luxuriate in just a little bit.

Summer has many ideals.

This year was our first taste of it: the break from school, the hopes of vacation, the freedom from routine and restrictive to-do lists, the house projects. My mornings were my own as my husband relished summer break following his first year teaching music at Central Catholic High School. But no one need tell you, Northern California, that summer is hot. I spent more days hiding inside with the air conditioner than I care to admit.

Now, with the drop in temperature, the longer nights, the shorter days, I see the plants around my home come alive again as if they slept like a cat in the summer sun to preserve their energy. A peculiar delight creeps into me as I breathe in the 60-degree morning air and feel a sense of freedom.

Living in the country, as we do, the seasons are palpable again. In town, our trees changed colors in October and lost their leaves altogether by Thanksgiving. But here, where the sun beats down on that west side of the house and the dirt hardens under its drying power, the shortening of daytime hours is felt.

How much do we suffer for want of nature?

Online I respond to mothers posting their ennui. Science confirms the benefits of being in nature on mind and body. Even five minutes will do benefit us.
Fall begins the seasons of festivity, of a new bustling that bursts with nostalgia and tradition. Advertisers increase the appeal ramping up Halloween as the second most expensive holiday. But they stay within their big box stores.

Locally, is it the festivals like the Denair Farm Festival, the immersive pumpkin patches like that at The Fruit Barn and Dutch Hollow, the shopping events like Vintage at the Yard, and the local author book sale at the Modesto Library (where I’ll be selling my own book!) that speak the season to me in a way that has more heart then the commercialism decried in the Peanuts comic strip. My calendar overflows with more events than I can fathom or that my energy can maintain.

I look out the window where just a month ago the sun rose arrogantly to wake my children before 6 a.m. This morning, I behold the darkness of night continued while the cars commute off to work. Breathing in, I think, maybe today I will decorate, but my rational self wants to hold back just a little longer.

Everything in its time.

Everything. I wait to enjoy the events, the decorating, the pumpkin patches, and the heart of it: my family, my children, the goodness of the moment and the experience the change of seasons can bring.

If nature eludes suburban life or apartment living, find it this weekend. Find those bits of September, that glorious in-between month when the back-to-school pencils are sharpened and the days begin their change. A new season is new opportunities.

Midwesterners and New Englanders can criticize us for lacking seasons. The seasons are there, but when one works a steady full-day job, it takes a bit more intentionality to notice it, to breathe it in, to stay outside a little longer.

Times are changing and I am ready for it. Put the cell phone aside. Turn off the air conditioner. Visit the Hughson Arboretum. You see it there. The autumnal change is out there, just waiting to be discovered, savored and loved.

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch

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