I caught my first whiff of autumn this afternoon. I was walking down Roosevelt near Scarecrow when it happened. I can’t describe the smell, of course, but I know that it smells of autumn. If Antonin Scalia can use such logic to define obscenity, I surely can use it to define autumn.
Fall has always been my favorite season. Part of it is pure vanity. Due to our obsessive beauty myths (or some post-modern drivel like that), I’ve never been fully comfortable with my summertime clothings. Thanks to a few body image and gender issues, I’ve never been happy to bare skin and show off certain parts of me — although I’d like to — as other people do in the summer. Fall, then, was always a perfect time because it started getting cooler and I could once again start wearing the clothes I had that I think looked good on me.
Seattle, though, is a little different. It hardly ever gets hot here — parts of this summer excepted, relatively speaking — and it’s never humid. That has translated to me being more comfortable, physically and sartorially, since I moved here back in the autumn of aught-two. More importantly, it’s also different in the way autumn falls upon us.
As I’ve written before in other forums, in the Midwest the hot summer sun starts to shine differently starting in late August… more obliquely. It seems somehow more filtered than the full-spectrum summer sun. The weather slowly cools off: first to sweater weather and finally to winter coat weather. It has always brought me simple and utter joy to realize that I had to wear a heavier shirt to do work outside. Autumn is the beginning of tights weather, too; nice legs adorned in intriguing and funky legwear are much much hotter than bare legs, IMO.
Then there’s the trees.I miss the fall colors of the Midwest. I miss Wisconsin’s gorgeous canvas. I miss driving down county roads of Champaign County. I miss the smell of the drying leaves, the rustling sound as the wind rakes fallen leaves off the sidewalk. I miss the fresh-squeezed, unfiltered cider and hot, fresh apple donuts from Curtis Orchard, south of Champaign.
For its relaxed pace, the Northwest switches from summer to fall more abruptly and dramatically, as I have come to notice over these two full seasonal cycles that I’ve lived here. I remember well that September day in aught-three when I was temping at Amazon. As I frequently did, I was looking out from a fourth-story window across Qwest Field’s parking lot, out onto the Port and into Elliot Bay. This day, though, I could not see the Olympics in the background as I had seen all summer. After three months of mostly cloudless days, I saw clouds rolling in from the Peninsula. I knew immediately that summer was over. Having been spoiled by all that sun, I should have mourned the end of summer. However, I remember accepting it — welcoming it, actually — and feeling ready for the rainy season.
So I found it odd that I had a Midwestern moment of autumnal awareness today. Am I getting more attuned to the nuances of Northwest climate? Or am I just subconsciously homesick for the Midwest given my recent thoughts of life on the Mississippi? In either case, I’m ready for fall. Certifiably, today was a harbinger of the changing season. I passed the U-District farmer’s market on my way down; it was bustling with people selling and buying the harvest. It’s still wonderfully warm and sunny, albeit noticably cooler these past few days than it was a few weeks ago. The sun shone a few degrees shallower from perpendicular.
I don’t know when the clouds will roll in and stick around for several months but I know that they are coming.