I was at the hardware store the other day and overheard a man tell Ed, the manager, that fall was his favorite time of year. Ed, because he’s congenial and likes to keep his customers happy, agreed that fall was a wonderful season, but I could tell he was lying because no one with half a brain likes fall. The glories of summer are past, the drudgeries of winter are looming, and along comes fall, dressed to the nines, promising what she can’t deliver. Fall is the politician pledging to drain the swamp, the alcoholic vowing to turn over a new leaf, the televangelist guaranteeing a miracle. Fall is the carnival barker of seasons, beguiling us one moment, picking our pockets the next.
I was thumbing through my mind recently, recollecting whether anything good has ever happened to me in the fall, and couldn’t think of one thing. I met my wife in the summer and married her two summers later. My sons were born in the winter and summer, my granddaughter in the winter. I’ve been fired twice in my life, both times in the throes of autumn. One October, a semi-truck hauling tofu ran a red light and T-boned me, obliterating my favorite truck, combining in one fell swoop the three things I most despise — semis, tofu, and October.
I once took a test on the internet to find out the month and year of my death based on my health, lifestyle, and age. I hit the Enter button, watched the circle spin at the center of my screen, and then was informed I’ll clock out in 2052, at the age of 92, in the month of October. It didn’t say how I will die, though I’m certain my death will be autumn-related — eaten by a bear accumulating fat for the winter, run over by a distracted leaf-gawker, or sucked into a combine.
Fall is the politician pledging to drain the swamp, the alcoholic vowing to turn over a new leaf, the televangelist guaranteeing a miracle.
I’m not saying fall is without its charms. The leaves are beautiful, once one overlooks their suicidal habit of hurling themselves to the ground and skittering across the earth, clicking like rickety bones. I do enjoy the Laodicean weather, neither hot nor cold, and therefore pleasing to me, if not to God. Then again, fall’s vacillation is troubling, its effort to please everyone, its constant search for the middle ground, to be all things to all people. Say what you will about summer and winter, at least they have the courage of their convictions, even if they kill us with heatstroke or hypothermia.
As I write this, it occurs to me I’m not that fond of winter either, which means half my life, from October to March, is a miserable slog. Fortunately, I like spring and summer twice as much as anyone, so it comes out even in the end.
I recently read a story of a man coming out of a six-month coma. I hope if I’m ever in a coma it starts in early fall and ends just as winter is concluding. My family would be gathered around my bed upon my awakening.
“Don’t you remember anything from the past six months?” my wife would ask.
“Not the first thing,” I would happily report.
It takes a man of resolute courage to so openly scorn a season everyone else admires, but I’m not one to be swayed by public opinion, no matter how strongly the winds of judgment blow.
If I ever have enough money, I’m going to buy a second home in Australia, so that when autumn starts here, I can move there for six months, just when spring is starting.
This article is featured in the September/October 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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