FALL. This is my favorite word right now. It magically conjures up images in my mind of pumpkin patches, cornmazes, hayrides, cardigan-wearing, apple orchards, leaves falling, long shadows in the afternoon, chilly evenings, woodsmoke, football games, hot chocolate, and the list could go on and on and on. I have a serious love affair with fall every year.
But, I've wondered why I feel this strongly about a season and there are a few reasons, I think, for why I can wax poetic over these all-too-short three months of the year. The first is that I'm from Georgia, not too far from HOT-lanta actually, and for as long as I can remember, once August rolled around every year, I was ready to make the move to Canada for some relief from the sweltering Georgia heat. I'd cut out magazine photos of autumnal things (leaves, pumpkins, people wearing sweaters) and tuck it in the corner of the picture frame above my desk, just to remind me that one day, in the not too distant future, the temperature really would dip below 90 degrees and I might have a good hair day again.
But, there's another reason for my adoration of all things autumnal. Beyond just the obvious relief from oppressive, Deep South temperatures, there is something intensely nostalgic about fall, something that hangs about the idea of it and makes me feel like journaling at Starbucks, writing letters to old friends and reading favorite books again. (It also makes me want to go to Dollywood, but that's for another time, another blog post.) I can't quite put my finger on this wistful feeling, I just know that fall brings this curious longing for something I can't name.
Thank goodness for C.S. Lewis who put some of this into words, especially in his Weight of Glory, but also in some of his other writings. In Pilgrim's Regress, he talks about "that unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of a bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of "Kubla Khan," the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves."
Lewis called this desire sehnsucht, "a German noun translated as 'longing', 'yearning' and 'craving', or in a wider sense a type of 'intensely missing'." I love this word for some reason, even though there's something distinctly melancholy about it.
Despite my best efforts, I can't help but wish away the long, hot summers every year. I wait by the air conditioning vent during those blistering months, knowing that on the other side of August (or sometimes September), along with cooling temperatures, there will also be the old rememberings in this new fall in the midst of hayrides and the smell of woodsmoke and the worn sweater I'll pull down from the closet.
This year my favorite season includes sweet Sam and I can't wait to take him to the mountains and jump in piles of leaves and feed him pumpkin pie (pureed, of course). As my friend Lex would say, "shared joy is double joy," and I'm guessing this fall will be the most joy-full yet.
Pumpkin Spice Lattes, here I come.