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Autumn Enthusiasm


It’s no real secret that I think fall is overrated, but mostly, it’s just a grudge left over from my very first “real fall” in Missouri more than 20 years ago.

At first, I thought it was beautiful – the bright red and gold leaves, the crispness to the air, the wholesome Midwestern traditions like apple-picking and hayrides and corn mazes. Then the leaves fell off the trees, the temperature dropped to single digits, and there was nothing but gray and black and grim seasonal depression to carry me bleakly on till spring.

Fall tricked me once but NEVER again. Because I have the kind of pessimistic personality that dreads things well in advance, I would fall into a sullen mood over Labor Day weekend and not emerge from it until Easter. (In essence, I hated a perfectly lovely season because I knew too well what it would bring on its heels.)

Ruby, my late December baby, spent one full calendar year in Missouri; we moved to New Orleans in early January, when she was barely 1 year old. So she had a fall experience – we dressed her in thick overalls and propped her up against a pumpkin – but beyond that, she has never really known an authentic autumn. She visits her father in St. Louis every summer and at Christmas, so she only really knows the extremes of very hot and very cold.

In New Orleans, where she spends the rest of the year, we get maybe a week of milder weather in October, but that’s usually the only nod to any kind of seasonal change until well into the holiday season.

Nevertheless, my kid loves fall. “I’m so basic!” she says happily while drinking a pumpkin spice latte. “But what can I do? I like the things I like, and I love this time of year!”

“I wish you could do real fall,” her dad (a fall fanatic) would tell her anytime she said anything like that. “You get the same months in New Orleans and you get the seasonal crap that they sell everywhere this time of year, but you don’t actually get fall.”

Given the constraints of school attendance requirements, Ruby couldn’t exactly go 1,000 miles away just to tramp through some fallen leaves and drink cider around a campfire or whatever … but now that she is doing virtual school, she can attend from anywhere, and so last week, she headed off to the Great Autumnal Excitement that is Missouri in October.

“Ahhhh its 34 degrees RN [Ed. note: This means “right now” in teen text-speak.] and I love it so much,” she texted me this morning at 6:30 like a crazy person (both for being awake at that hour and for loving that weather).

The texts kept coming all day.

“It’s perfect outside – hoodie weather!”

“I love the leaves crunching under my boots! I love that I EVEN GET TO WEAR BOOTS RN!”

“Dad says up here we can carve pumpkins early and they wont rot/melt!!!”

“Even the food is warm & happy! Butternut squash & mac&cheese & pieeeee & potato anything! It’s all perfect fall food!”

“Oooooh and cider!!!”

I miss her, but I’m happy for her. With everything she’s had to give up since March, this is at least one silver lining of the whole situation.

And honestly, I might even enjoy fall in the Midwest myself if I knew I’d be able to come back to New Orleans for winter!



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