I nuzzled the bed sheets around me tighter as I squinted my eyes at the dim stream of light the autumn sun was pushing through the curtains. I hunkered down farther into the bed as a sense of deja vu filtered into my mind like it too was trickling in through those curtains. What is this foreign feeling coming over me? I know I’ve felt it before, but it seems like it has been so long.
I sat up in bed as it suddenly hit me. I was cold.
This could only mean one thing: finally autumn had arrived. In Florida—a place where summer lingers around, greedily eating up at least half of the year—this is a very exciting realization that results in a series of events that are full of autumn enthusiasm.
Stage One: Doing The Autumn Trot
I leaped out of bed and trotted about the room in minimal clothing, and was therefore all the more cold, but nonetheless I trotted about. The trot is done with the same enthusiasm that a dog has when excitedly rolling on its back in the grass—pure, ridiculous, happiness.
It felt like ages since I woke up cold. Well, approximately seven months, but the prolonged Florida summer has a way of seeping into the mind. The heat erases memories of beautiful crisp air.
Despite that comparison to dog behavior mentioned above, my dogs never understand. They both looked at my quizzically. Is she sick? They wondered. She isn’t even playing any of that horrible human noise that she normally dances to. We had better keep our distance—it might be fleas.
The trot then was carried on to the back door, which was flung open in a dramatization of the way autumn had suddenly burst onto the scene. Out on the porch the trot continued. The wind was undeniably the cool freshness of an autumn breeze. I let it slap against my still semi-clothed body like it was a ritual.
Stage Two: Finding Those Cans of Pumpkin
Once the trot was completed, at which time I may or may not have decided to properly dress myself, it was time to move toward the kitchen.
It doesn’t matter that it is going to be eighty-five degrees tomorrow. We are living in the moment! Where’s that can of pumpkin?
Naturally, I found it, and about seven more of its friends. I may have decided to stock up in preparation for that grand day, back when it was still a reliably sweltering ninety degrees and the time of eating a pumpkin muffin seemed so outlandishly far away.
Once the pumpkin was on the counter, the reality of the situation struck, and I reverted back to the bedroom. Laptop on lap, it was time for the great King Arthur Flour pumpkin recipe search. This consists of looking at every pumpkin muffin, bread, cookie, cake, and other lovely miscellaneous things, which I was definitely, absolutely, without a doubt going to bake…just not right then.
Stage Three: Realizing You Have to be Outside
It was a sunny, windy day, and I was pretty sure autumn would have it no other way…until the next day, when I could expect the return of my sweat. I couldn’t miss a moment of it while it lasted. The wind rushed around me, like an affectionate greeting. Well hello there Floridian. You thought you’d never see me, didn’t you?
There was that smell in the air, and not unlike the surprising feeling of being cold first thing in the morning, I couldn’t quite place it. What is it that makes up that autumn smell? And then it dawned on me—it was anti-humidity.
Summer rain is the most heavy, wet, lush smell in the world. Autumn air is the opposite, and that is a beautiful thing. So are autumn sunsets—like bursts of a golden explosion into the horizon. And of course the early nights when the stars are gleaming bright and those noisy cicadas have finally stopped drowning out the crickets.
I let the wind rush by me once more. I could visualize the early nights and the curling up with a good book—the great curl inward that winter brings, so that we can accomplish internal projects to go along with all those warm weather external ones.
Stage 4: Embracing the Moment
I remembered then that winter was coming—whether or not autumn continued to duel with summer for the next two months. The seasons were shifting, the world was turning, and time just kept right on moving. It could be a sad thing, and I could fear the passage of time and my own life’s slow creep toward winter. Or, I could inhale each moment slower, whether it be sticky with humidity, or fresh from an autumn breeze.
I will embrace all moments, I said triumphantly from the backyard, where I was still wearing an apron and possibly no pants. I will embrace all moments…but I will inhale the good ones deeper.
And so I took a deep breath of that autumn wind, and I smiled.