Properly Seasoned



             Man, Labor Day already? Where did the summer go? This can only mean one thing: Fall is coming.

            In a few weeks, we’ll cross through the autumnal equinox, which sounds an awful lot like a new Chevy SUV but it’s really just the first day of fall. Even though fall is my absolute favorite season, I’m going to try to enjoy the last drops of summer and whatever warmth the weather throws at me, but it’s inevitable: Change is coming.

           The morning air is crisper and the dew hangs on the grass a little longer these days. The mornings are also darker longer and on the tail end, the nights are darker earlier as daylight starts to get seasonally squeezed.

           Fall used to mean the beginning of a new school year, first for me when I was a kid and then for my daughter when I wasn’t. Now I watch from the sidelines as the neighborhood kids gear up for school, leaving things eerily still for most of the day. After preparing for the first day of school for nearly half a century, it still feels like a subliminal fifth season to me.

          For the past few days, the school district has been sending out the buses for practice runs so that the drivers can learn their routes before school starts up again. This caught the attention of Milo, our dog, who is now busy resetting his internal clock so that he can prepare to growl at 8:40 and again at 4:15. There’s just something about the sound of a diesel engine that triggers his warning bell.

         Fall is also the time of the year when the end of baseball season intertwines with the start of football season and yet both seem fitting, unlike the end of the hockey season, which awkwardly overlaps baseball season during the warm days of spring. Am I the only one that thinks the hockey season should end when the ice melts?

Just two dudes, hanging out in their pajamas.

Just two dudes, hanging out in their pajama uniforms.

         It’s dark when I get up now, which means I can pad out to the mailbox in my pajamas to get the newspaper. I’m sort of modest when it comes to public displays of pajamaness, so this is a good time of the year for me. I say pajamas, but it’s not as if I’m wearing a pajama suit with a matching top and bottom. I’m not sure who wears those anymore or where they even sell them. No, my deal is that I wear whatever T-shirt happens to be on top of the pile along with a pair of PJ bottoms. In the morning, the dog and I will sneak out there under cover of darkness, and take a hike down the driveway.  Sometimes I’ll linger out there an extra second or two and revel in my pajama bawdiness.

         Fall also means I can finally put the shorts away, as I’m an unenthusiastic wearer of shorts. I always have been, as I’ve never been completely hummelcomfortable wearing them. I think it’s the footwear conundrum. I have feet the size of swim fins and my toes are a bit hammered and Hobbit-like and I’m somewhat baffled by how I should be shod when I wear shorts. Sandals? No. Sneakers? Eh, maybe. The thing is, I prefer shoes and socks, and the three-peat of shoes, socks and shorts make me feel like I should be delivering mail or strapping on a rucksack and heading off to boarding school in the Alps. I’m actually chomping at the bit to wear fall clothes. When I open the closet door in our bedroom, I see all of my various plaid flannel shirts queued up on hangers on the top row of shelving, and all of my jeans and khakis folded in half and hanging below them on the bottom row. It’s as if I’m looking at empty versions of me.

           So here I sit outside, reluctantly wearing a T-shirt (with jeans) and salivating in anticipation of darker days and cooler temperatures. Go figure. I want to appreciate this last hurrah of warmer weather a little more, but I guess I’m just an autumnal man trapped between seasons. I’m more than ready for a change.

          It’s hard to explain the part about fall that I like most. I mean besides the comfortable clothes. The season is so short and on top of that, it can go horribly bad if it rains but—and this is a big but—when you get one of those blue sky, crispy air, tarnished leaves on the trees kind of day, there is absolutely nothing prettier. If you get one of those days and it happens to fall on a workday, my advice is to call in sick, get in the car and drive someplace that is full of trees and enjoy it because as great as fall is, it’s just a blink away from the sterile, colorless days of winter.

           Fall gets cheated. The good fall weather doesn’t really start until late September and it’s not in full bloom until October. By the end of October, it’s much colder, the leaves are gone and all that’s left is the technicality of the season. It’s officially autumn until just a few days before Christmas but by then, we all know it’s really winter. It’s been winter since it went below freezing and that first snowflake fell from the sky.

           But that’s still weeks away, and as I’m sitting outside with a cup of evening coffee, I’m trying to think of a suitable ending to this fall story. I’m drawing a blank.   Maybe this time it’s best to simply call it a day, tap out of the tablet and watch the evening shadows as they grow little longer. Summer is winding down, fall is coming, and from where I’m sitting right now, it’s the best of both seasons for the next thirty minutes.

            Somehow, I couldn’t be happier.









©Rick Garvia 2013.   This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Electronic or print reproduction, adaptation, or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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