Summer, somehow, always lets me down. Does anybody else feel like that? It has such a powerful presence in our cultural imagination: the cookouts, the al fresco meals with cocktails in dewy glasses, the hours spent with a book in the warm sand. And yet, for a garden-variety New Yorker like me, summer under-delivers. I don't have a country house or a summer rental or even so much as a balcony. All those fun-sounding, free outdoor concerts are as crowded as the 4 train at 8:35 AM. Most of my time outside during the summer is spent trailing along sidewalks rancid with the smell of overheated garbage.
Fall, though. If summer is the sexy blond cheerleader, all beachy waves and sunkissed cleavage, fall is the shy beauty in Mary Janes at the back of the classroom who knows the words to every Simon & Garfunkel song. Fall is pure magic.
I don't know if it's just a legacy of 20-odd years of back-to-school rituals, but fall has always felt like a time of possibility to me. A time of new beginnings. It's always been my favorite season, and so I have, especially in recent years, stacked it in its own favor. I've planned weekends upstate with friends and family, frolicking under maple leaves and picking apples from trees and guzzling cider in front of the fireplace. I got engaged in October and married in October, and now all of my anniversaries will be in October too, which just adds one more fun landmark to an already celebration-rich season. The onset of each fall launches me into a frenzy of baking and cooking and entertaining: pies and stews and all those rich, hearty things I am normally far too lazy to cook during the rest of the year.
But before the fall season actually hits, there's one of my favorite days of the year--the first day toward the end of summer that feels like fall. The day when, after weeks of plasma-swamp humidity and sweat-stained T-shirts, I walk outside my apartment into air that has the crisp bite of a Granny Smith apple and tastes every bit as refreshing. "Hang in there," the breeze whispers, "I'm coming back soon."
Today was that day. And it brought with it that wonderful, familiar sensation of promise. This year, fall will see me completing the edits to get my first novel ready for publication. Hard to imagine a more compelling feeling of new-beginning than that.