The air has become cooler and more crisp over the past week. We’ve opened the windows more, making a point to crack even the practically-stuck-shut kitchen windows that only Evan can open. The air is just too good; I can’t let a single room of the house go unloved.
I may have noticed that later this week, the forecast calls for 89 degrees again, but I’m in denial. Yesterday, Evan looked out the front window and pointed out that two houses down, the very top leaves on our neighbor’s tree are tinged red already.
I love autumn. Even when we lived in Florida, I craved fall. I savored the rare day in the seventies and longed for more. Laying claim to a real autumn season is perhaps the greatest thing about living in Michigan.
I’m trying to decide why. Why do I love this season so much, when I’ve barely experienced it?
When the temperatures drop and the breeze picks up, when grocery stores fill their front sidewalks with pumpkins and the whole world seems tinted slightly red and orange, when we watch Gameday on Saturday mornings, and when school buses begin driving down the street again: this is all it takes for me to feel refreshed, reenergized, as though even the most mundane has become new and lovely again.
My whole being seems to give a sigh of relief, to release some tension I’ve been unwittingly clinging to. It feels nostalgic, as though I’m remembering something I had forgotten until just now, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
What is it, exactly, that my soul remembers?
I remember Saturday afternoons in the J.C. Penney fitting room, hinting for the perfect pair of back-to-school jeans.
I remember carving a pumpkin on the back patio with my dad, scooping the guts and pumpkin seeds onto a big black trash bag.
I remember waking up in my dorm room, to the sound of orange and blue RVs blasting the Gator’s fight song.
I remember the sound of a bike’s little bell behind me and the tires bouncing along the cobblestones, as I move further to the righthand side of of the sidewalk on campus.
I remember a cooler of beers and Missy’s corn casserole and grateful prayers around the table at “friendsgiving.”
I remember packing Thanksgiving leftovers into empty Cool Whip tubs, then gathering around Grandma’s kitchen table to play Phase 10.
And here in Michigan, new memories, from just a year ago:
I remember donning gloves and heavy coats to go apple picking.
I remember stopping to pass my toddler a pouch of applesauce, in the midst of a stroll downtown during Art Prize.
I remember just last year: a newborn, skin still red and wrinkly, dozing in the swing between feedings, while my family squeezed in around our tiny kitchen table.
Autumn isn’t just about the cooler air, though it’s a welcome relief. It’s not just about the pumpkins and cinnamon, though I love them both. And it’s true: I don’t totally get what it’s about. But this slow walk toward winter, toward Advent, toward Christmas, this winding down of Ordinary Time: it feels like coming home.