I hate autumn.
There, I said it. As the mercury crawls only into the seventies each afternoon, and all my family, friends and colleagues spring into life, I begin two months of long sighs.
My newsmates, who for the past few months have been shuffling into work later and later, suddenly bound through the door each morning before I’ve metabolized my first 500 mg of caffeine. They’re just aching, no, they’re bursting, no, they’re freaking writhing with happiness over what they call Colorado’s gorgeous, “crisp” mornings.
“Gooooood morning,” they sing, dragging the carcasses of dead leaves and the smell of car heaters into the newsroom. “God, it’s beautiful out there. Just perfect weather.”
“Blow it out your dorsal orifice and huff it in a grocery bag,” I think. But I say, “another sweet Colorado fall day.”
I didn’t develop my disdain for autumn, nor did it come after some stunning epiphany. I was born that way. My family saw cool mornings, brilliant red leaves and a fresh season of “Gunsmoke.” I saw jaundiced sunlight, dead and decaying foliage and another semester of sleep deprivation.
For the rest of my family, big weekend breakfasts became epic weekend breakfasts. By the time the first frost hit, we would sit in front of mountains of buttermilk biscuits in a sea of sausage gravy fighting for space on the plate with fried eggs and hash browns. If we could move from the table at all before lunch, it would be to fade in and out of a coma in front of the television, absorbing cultural classics like All Star wrestling, “Soul Train” and the occasional Doris Day movie. Long days that seemed to never end, and hot nights filled with endless episodes of hide-and-go-seek gave way to screaming crickets and friends who got too cold to stay outside and had homework.
Things haven’t changed that much over the past several decades. My own family now wakes up famished on weekends. We’ve changed out reservoirs of gravy for whole-grain pancakes floating in a lake of Grade B maple syrup from Vermont. My regular weekend bike rides, enchanting before summer dawn far into Golden where deer and bunnies make it like a living Disney movie, give way to cold, shuddering grinds in the dark where grumpy skunks play chicken along the Platte River and usually win.
The wind picks up around the end of September, blowing eau d’ Commerce City all over the metro area, scuttling what’s left of hundreds of dollars of bedding plants in my yard all over the neighborhood. I dig potatoes out of the cold, damp dirt. I’m tired of riding and aching to ski, and I can’t do either. So I join the rest of my clan and move back inside to eat heavy stews, drink dark, menacing wines and watch the beautiful world outside wither, die and rot.
Fall means studying for tests, seriously paying attention to political candidates, cleaning out the furnace and going back in for a jacket. It means going to work in the dark and coming home in it, too. It means watching tans become skin damage. Orphaned tomatoes rot. Spiders encroach. Utility bills swell. If summer is life’s party, autumn is last call.
I don’t know how this happened, and I’m resentful that everyone around me relishes what I see as the death of a good time.
Don’t worry about me. I’ll snap out of it like I always do. The first real snow and opening day on the slopes jolts me as if it were just a bad dream. Winter brings snow and endless reasons to eat and drink everything you want in endless quantities. You can ski it all off or hide it under big coasts and sweaters. Winter is a perfect and endless excuse for everything from not dieting, to not bathing, to avoiding house repair and car washing, to watching all the “Thin Man” movies back-to-back.
If summer is life, then winter is life after death, and a reason to keep living.