Fall Downers

Melancholic.  One word to describe how I feel this time of year, every year since Hanover, NH.  Today being the first full day of fall I feel like ruminating on the subject for a moment even though Blacksburg temperatures haven’t clued in yet.

I grew up in southwestern Oklahoma where the summer to fall transition was subtle.  One early autumn day could be hot and humid, the next slightly less humid, then it might be cold and windy.  Then maybe it would warm up to t-shirt weather again.  Not very autumnal.

When I went to New Hampshire for college I spent all four summers on campus.  Spending the summers on campus was perfect.  The foot traffic shrunk by nearly three-quarters and I loved that cozy feeling of having the town and scenery all to myself.  My college was nestled in a rural setting with the Connecticut River running alongside the campus border.   Many days were spent swimming in the river or walking around the town, acting reckless and feeling entitled.  Students on campus seemed friendlier, the parties more intimate, and my fellow summer transients and I bonded over nights out or the crazy road trips we would take.

But there was a period of two or three weeks in September, the interim between summer and fall terms, where everything went away: summer freedom, daylight, green leaves and grass.  I would pass a large crab-apple tree near a side entrance to Baker Library on my way to and from summer housing.  For a few weeks a large section of the sidewalk was littered with squashed apples and that sweet smell of rotting fruit was intense.  I associate that smell and the song from the cartoon version of “Charlotte’s Web” (when Charlotte the spider is dying) with the end of summer.  Don’t ask me why Charlotte’s death feels like this time of year to me.  It just does.

But then pumpkins show up and Halloween looms around the corner and I feel great again.  I love the summer and I love the fall.  It’s the in-between that gets me down for a little while.


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