I have always had a love-hate relationship with fall. The ushering in of cool temperatures after so many southern sun-soaked, humidity-filled days was always a relief. But the impending holidays were a dark cloud hanging overhead, so I couldn’t fully breathe after the last days of August.
Now that holidays are something to look forward to, I can wholly appreciate and ignite my love affair with autumn. Even though it surely happens gradually, it always seems to me that there is one night when fall arrives. All of the sudden, there is a chill in the air and the thermostat gets adjusted from full blown AC to somewhere between “off” and “heat”. I immediately want to go shopping for school clothes even though I am no longer a student and don’t have kids. My thoughts turn to apple picking, bonfires, and hot cider. I haven’t been apple picking in over a decade, and can’t remember my last bonfire or cup of cider, but the fact that all those things are happening just makes me happy. It all means fall-- cooler temperatures, sweatshirts, pumpkin patches, stained glass colored leaves, and Halloween candy.
I always want to head to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina in late October and walk through crunchy piles of leaves around The Grove Park Inn and settle into one of their beautiful, old fashioned rocking chairs out on the huge back porch, drinking hot chocolate while taking in the view. I think of countless falls before, making the trek almost solely for the purpose of sitting in the lobby in front of one of the two biggest fireplaces I have ever seen. All of it means something to me: autumn perfection. I have been to Asheville during other times of the year, but nothing beats walking the grounds of The Biltmore Estate when the air is cool, and strolling around the shops and art galleries, and taking time for long breakfasts and lunches, almost forgoing the need for dinner at all.
When I was young, I remember that every year around this time, I held out hope before school began that things would be different this year—better than the last; that this was somehow a new beginning. Even more than New Year’s Day, this time of year seemed the start of things. For the many years I was in elementary, middle and high schools—then on to college—that makes more sense. But even now, I feel like this is the starting line.
This year it may very well be. Living in a beautiful location by the sea is as wonderful as it sounds. We are less than a mile from the beach, and every corner and hot dog stand holds some of the best memories of our childhoods and growing up over the years vacationing here. But, the job market is as bleak as the sunny, salty days are wonderful. We are facing some tough choices, and some possible huge changes in our lives that could bring about amazing things. It will not be easy, and the unknown keeps me up at night with worry.
But, the possibilities and the excitement also keep me up at night. Knowing we are this close to making some dreams happen, and thinking about sharing this adventure together is as thrilling as it is stressful. For now, I have to try and stay focused, learn to meditate or try some yoga, and hope for the best. And as I unpack my fall sweaters and my Halloween decorations, I am doing just that..and also giving thanks that my favorite time of year has finally arrived.