Growing up in Gilmer, Fall didn’t start until mid-October; it meant Yamboree time, wearing two pairs of hose when twirling at football games, getting to sport my letter jacket on cool mornings, not trick-or-treating because we lived in the boonies, and eating those delicious gingerbread-pumpkin Little Debbie snacks. It was the season of non-changing evergreens and a few sweetgum or oak leaves on the lawn, baked yam pies, buying a whole sugarcane from the fairgrounds, and going to a church’s highlight night so I had somewhere to wear my Halloween costume (I was a bear, a lion, and Princess Leia. That’s all, ever). It came suddenly and was often pushed back by sudden 90-degree temperature spikes. It was full of hot chocolate in styrofoam cups and seeing your breath in the morning when the school bus came.
When I moved to Missouri, suddenly Fall was wearing long johns under my t-shirts in October, eating pumpkin pie concretes at Andy’s, and praying that the heater would get turned on the theatre shop/garage. Trees turned beautiful hues overnight, hoodies were worn to every class, and my Midwestern friends got to make fun of me when I was the first one to dig out my full winter coat. I’d make oatmeal in my dorm microwave before classes and carry a thermos of hot tea in the morning. Drury’s tree farm colors were more vibrant than anything I’d ever seen before and for once I could participate in Halloween festivities. Springfield’s fall felt like Gilmer’s winter and every day we crept closer and closer to the days that would be full of hats, scarves and a chance of snow. My cheeks were perpetually rosy and my nose constantly runny from the crisp breeze down Drury Lane.
Now I’m in a new part of Texas with the same type of Fall as back home, but the season is all different because God gave me a boy that grew up in the Northlands with whom to share it. Fall doesn’t mean pumpkin pie or carrot cake anymore unless it’s immediately followed by a thorough teeth-brushing so Bill doesn’t get ill. The nights are spent with the breezes coming in through the windows, a completely novel practice to a Southern girl with a low tolerance for the cold. Fall leaves came in an envelope from New York; they’re now framed so we can have a little bit of a more traditional Fall in our little Houston apartment. Until our shipment of apples arrives, we’re living on Harvest Spice cookies rich with molasses, honey, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Weekend mornings start with my oatmeal in the solarium with the windows open. The sweaters and long sleeved shirts are out of storage but they can still only be worn sparingly.
Though Gilmer will always be my first home and Springfield the academic home I chose: both beautiful, crisp, and Fall in their own ways, this Northern-touched Fall lacking in beta carotene but pumped full of cool breezes and nightly walks is my new favorite. Bill will always make fun of my 4-layer days in October, I’ll still sneak pumpkin pie when I get the chance, but waking up to the breeze in my face as the alarm goes off is a new sort of amazing that encapsulates my new sense of Fall. It takes me back to camping in the mountains with my parents when I was little, reading a pile of books in my hammock with my blanket every day and I love getting to feel that every morning with Bill and Bueller by my side. This season is suddenly new and vibrant with first memories to be made, holidays approaching with new traditions to be founded, and I’m so thankful for my new Fall. I can’t wait to see where the next one finds us.