I’m a seasonal visitor to most places around the world, and I can only say that—and I hope this doesn’t sound too prideful—there are very few people who don’t eagerly await my arrival.
It’s certainly nice to be loved, and why shouldn’t I be? I bring word that so many wonderful things are on the way. The wonderful things don’t appear on the exact day I arrive—for my visit is always just a fleeting one—but they do arrive not long afterward. Hayrides and apple festivals. College football games. Elementary school bake sales. Halloween and Thanksgiving. Late nights of stargazing around the fire pit.
The atmosphere not only feels different once I’ve made my visit, it even smells different. Soon, like clockwork, everyone’s having Cranberry Autumn tea—a personal favorite—and hot apple cider. Bakers start turning out plump loaves of pumpkin bread and their best pecan pies. Barbecue smoke wafts over the backyard fence just in time to signal a last-minute invite luring the neighbors to supper. And, oh, the caramel popcorn and cotton candy at the county fair. That rich, delicious hot sugar smell alone is a feast for the senses. And those things can’t be found in January, April, or June. Only after I show up.
What I absolutely adore is that shortly after my arrival, everyone begins to chill out—literally and figuratively. Cooler temperatures move in, and so does a more relaxed, less frenzied pace. Whatever a man or woman’s leisure pursuit, they enjoy it more once I’ve worked my magic. Gardeners, suddenly shed of summer’s heat, head back outside to play in the dirt again. Fishermen and fisherwomen know that lakes will be low but spirits high since the bass will be coming out of their summer slump.
And I admit I have a soft spot for quilters. Yes, I know they ply their needles year-round, but after I give the go-ahead, they seem to go into overdrive. Inspired by the brilliant coloring of the trees, the quilters gather their honeyed golds, flaming reds, bright browns and opulent oranges in an effort to mimick what’s going on in nature outside their homes.
Soon, they’ll be at their sewing machines and wooden embroidery hoops, diligently working on quilts in the Log Cabin, Baltimore Album, or Wedding Ring pattern. Perhaps even a few Maple Leaf quilts will come to life in their hands. I hear about their creations every single year, and every single year, I love to give the quilters—and the gardeners, and the fishermen and fisherwomen—encouragement to indulge in the leisure pursuits that bring them so much pleasure.
Knowing how important a role I play, I do give a great deal of thought to the time of my arrival. It can’t be so soon that my message seems ridiculous, and it can’t be so late that they don’t have a few weeks’ fun of looking forward. The timing of my visit is critical, whether they realize it or not.
Also, there’s the fact that I don’t—can’t, really—choose to show up everywhere on the same day. That would be tiring. Plus, even I can’t be in two different places at one time, even though some people mistakenly think I can.
Then there are those who disregard my existence entirely and stubbornly insist on consulting their calendar to determine when I’ll show up. As if a piece of paper—or today, some silly electronic device—could possibly predict when I’ll be there. I still get a kick out of the folly of using a manmade tool to predict something so magical.
So, I am often asked, where did you come from? People are forever intrigued by the mystery surrounding me. I was born thousands of years ago, created in a whoosh and a whirl. There’s not an easy way to explain it, but for those who ask, I simply say that my mother was the wind and my father was the air. That usually does the trick without revealing too much of my mystique.
While I can’t be contained within the pages of a calendar, I can be found, and found easily, by those whose senses have been trained to find me. They see me in the flutter of the first fallen leaf, and they feel me in that quiet moment when the last of summer’s heat pauses, for just a single second, to permit a slight, oh-so-slight breeze.
And then I politely disappear for just a little longer, because I am, of course, the whisper of fall.