It is my time of year – Autumn; it has been my favourite season since I can remember.
Early on, it was the return to high school which, in part, meant returning to the music department, where I spent a majority of my class time for the last two years then. It meant the Packers would be back at it, doing their utmost to take the NFL Central (no, they hadn’t merged with the AFL yet).
For a while it meant returning to campus to attend classes and recitals and playing part time in a couple of the local pubs, while drinking espresso and cheap beer, and maybe the occasional whiskey, while being ignored by the vast majority of the house.
It meant wet fallen leaves and mulchy smells, and coolness at night. It meant playing bridge at the coffeehouse until very late at night with others all of whom should have been doing homework instead; additionally the dew-laden walks home afterward were pleasant enough, especially if it was late enough for it to be sunrise and watch the dew sparkle in coloured light.
Autumn’s entry foreshadowed my birthday, Armistice Day (for which one town in which I lived had a parade), my mum’s birthday, and Thanksgiving.
For some reason, I have always been most romantic in autumn. That doesn’t mean necessarily boy-girl romantic – it is more a sentimentality I feel. Sometimes it carried over into winter; more often not. Winter is a very practical season – you have to be practical just to get around. Spring is lewd and insouciant, rather like a drunken frat boy in Ft. Lauderdale. Summer is frivolous and just plain hot. Autumn is, by comparison, serious without being oppressive, meditative without being reclusive. Sentimentality is borne of such unlauded and unappreciated solemnity – what Lawrence Durell called ‘Jewish melancholy’. It goes along with my general introversion.
Cooking out in autumn smells and tastes different in autumn – mostly because the smells of autumn spice the food like no other season is capable.
It is the part of the year when one may once again dress like a civilized human being without sweltering. I much prefer that to shorts and t-shirts. I actually recently challenged a friend to tell me the last time she saw me in public in a t-shirt. She couldn’t do it. I also appreciate seeing other people with some sartorial sense. I much prefer a tasteful set of clothes on a woman to seeing that same woman in a bathing suit in public. That also has been part of my aesthetic preference for as long as I can recall paying attention to it at all.
I think, due, in part, to my sentimentality, I am also emotionally more vulnerable in autumn. Certain movies and shows affect me differently. The wee handful of friends affects me differently. Some sounds spear me through the heart – especially saxophone; I think I listen to jazz more in autumn than other times. Monk and ‘Trane, and Dexter Gordon are staples.
My heart is going through a rough patch this particular autumn. I suspect most of it is apprehension of the winter. I feel somewhat like the guy in a Thurber story – I believe the title is ‘The Gentleman In 916’. In it, a man living alone, whenever he emerges from 916, is assailed by couples, which confuses him. It confuses me, as well as makes me somewhat wistful for someone in particular. I expect that wistfulness to be self-correcting after a while; being around her sometimes makes me confused, at any rate.