Cozy Fall Days and Nights
Autumn is my favorite season. It’s a lot of people’s favorite season, especially women, I’ve noticed. For a long time, I wondered why we seemed to look forward to fall so much and a part of me thought that maybe it was for superficial reasons, but I rethought that earlier this year.
Sure, whenever fall rolls around the cosmetics industry kicks into high gear and starts introducing a ton of new (and expensive) makeup palettes and lipsticks, not to mention the fashion industry kicks into high gear and does their thing. In fact, fall is one of the biggest times of the year for the fashion industry with a ton of people buying clothes in November, and with the September issue of Vogue being released annually, which thousands (possibly millions) of people look forward to.
When you make it into a retail type of thing, it’s easy to believe that autumn is all about capital, just another time of the year to milk consumers for money and they fork it over like sheep. Maybe that’s true in a way, but I think the beauty of fall and people’s genuine love for it goes further than expensive candles, wallflowers, and seasonal air fresheners along with the other items that can be bought with the simple swipe of a card.
But nope. I honestly don’t think, at its core, that fall is about a bunch of stuff you can buy.
I think fall is a beautiful season, the absolute most beautiful season of the year, even though I do enjoy the lush green and fruitfulness of summer, I appreciate the melancholy — sometimes dreary — grayness of winter, and I bask in the sweet newness of spring. However, nothing compares to fall.
Because I live in the rural South, every year in late September I’m reminded that a new season has come and nature is slowly, yet elegantly, drifting away. It’s dying, but it’s not dead — the true death doesn’t occur until winter. I sort of think of the seasons as the aging process we all go through: spring is when nature is just born, young and growing; summer is when it’s in its prime; fall is its elderly phase, while winter is the actual death. And appreciating fall the way that I do, I actually slow down and relish in all of the changes happening with the trees, grass, and other elements. The weather cools down dramatically, the days become shorter, and the frantic pace that people adopted during the summer has slackened.
Spring is technically the season that resets nature, when everything is reborn and renewed, but I feel as though the beginning of autumn is when people start to hit their reset buttons. Even if you’ve been vacationing all summer at the beach, even that time has to come to an end, and many people will tell you that after a while, even a break becomes boring and they’re ready to return to regular, everyday life. Truth be told, there’s something relaxing about winding down and getting back into your routines, and for a lot of people, during the summer is when routine becomes obsolete, and they don’t regain that order again until fall. I know that’s the way it used to be for us back in the day when we were still in school and we were going back after summer vacation.
One of the reasons I couldn’t appreciate fall when I was younger was because I hated going to school with a passion. I didn’t hate learning, but my peers, as well as some of my teachers, gave me a hard time, so for many years, I unfortunately associated autumn with going back to school and being miserable. I would always say that I loved winter because it was cold, festive, and darkly beautiful (I still do love winter), but it was over a decade later after I finished school that I would finally come to value just how awesome autumn truly is.
Although I’ve wanted to write professionally since the age of ten, I didn’t become serious with my writing until 2011, when I was twenty-eight. I wrote my first book when I was fourteen, but I didn’t write a novel worth publishing until I was twenty-nine, in 2012. I didn’t just wake up in 2011 and decide to write a book either. It took many years for me to hone my writing skills, and in 2007 I had a bout of writer’s block that I thought was going to plague me forever. It was bittersweet relief when I wrote my first full novel that I could be proud of in 2012, but at the same time, writing it had been hard. I didn’t want it to be hard. I’m glad that I can’t relate to writers who’ve written twenty novels and they admit that they hate writing. When you hate to write, writing the book is going to be hard and proofreading it is going to be torturous. And one thought that I had back in 2012 that I never voiced aloud was that if writing didn’t ever get any easier for me, I was going to hang it up, throw in the pen, and stop writing fiction. Then in 2013 I came up with a strategy for writing my fourth book (third publishable one) that was genius for me and it broke through whatever mental barrier I’d had in my head for so long that made writing a chore, and for the first time, I had fun writing a novel. I was going through a lot in my personal life — a lot of it very bad — but damn if I hadn’t had the time of my life writing that novel. That’s when I found out that I could take pleasure in writing stories, which definitely comes in handy today. In 2014, I started writing my fifth and sixth novels at the same time, but I only finished one of them that same year, and didn’t finish my sixth one until 2015, and that sixth one was a magical one, both figuratively and literally since it contained elements of the supernatural. Back in 2015, I was living in a really nice area, but I wasn’t happy overall; in fact, I was suffering from clinical depression at that time and had been for years but writing that sixth novel was like food for my soul that I’d needed. Plus, nice area or not, I was dealing with people who were making me absolutely miserable. One saving grace that I looked to every single day was nature, and it was during that year that I looked forward to fall eagerly, and it didn’t disappoint. I think it was the fall of 2015 when I truly looked to a season with hope that I’d feel some renewal from it, and it had delivered marvelously. And for the past five years, autumn has come to my rescue ever since. There’s something I get from that season that I don’t get from any of the others and I’m looking forward to it this year the way a kid looks forward to their birthday and Christmas presents.
Aside from the change in weather, it’s hard to miss the change in store décor during the fall season. In America, between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, you have this mesh of decorations that sometimes goes up all at the same time and it overwhelms the senses in a good way. Between the bright orange- and rust-colored leaves of varying hues, it’s hard not to get a dose of nature’s eye candy during that time and feel nothing at all.
There are certain houses I drive by to see what Halloween decorations they’re putting up in their yards, while other houses don’t go all out and just hang wreaths on their front doors and place a few fat pumpkins on their front porches in places you can easily see them. I still love it when people put up their children’s hand-turkey drawings. When I saw that on display a couple of years ago on someone’s house (it was obviously laminated, in case you’re wondering), I was pleasantly surprised that people still did those.
But aside from all that, the food and drinks are wonderfully comforting this time of year. And I don’t care how basic everyone claims pumpkin spice is, it still reigns supreme as one of those little things you look forward to when fall rolls around. From those special, seasonal flavors at practically every restaurant and takeout place you can think of, you can count on the grocery stores to stock up on most of those same things every year. Dunkin’ Donuts has the coolest lattes, Coldstone Creamery has the most innovative ice cream choices (their pumpkin pie ice cream is amazing), and the fresh produce/deli/bakery section of every grocery store I go into is an autumn theme explosion. Between the pumpkin spice donuts, tarts, cookies, apple crumble kits, and candy apples, when you go on the baker’s aisle, there’s all sorts of box cookies and cakes that you won’t get any other time of the year. Not to mention you get the opportunity to take out your slow cooker and try all the desserts and hearty soups that seemed too heavy during spring and summer, but just right for autumn.
As an adult, there’s just something so lovely about autumn it’s hard to put into words. It’s as if the season takes its arms and wraps itself around you until winter swoops in with all its harshness; I think fall is there to ease you into what follows. Autumn is just that time of year when you wake up and your place looks awesome every single day because of the fall décor you’ve put up, and it smells wonderful because of the autumn theme oils you’re constantly burning that make your place smell like you’re always baking cookies or a pie. You’ve pulled out your thick fuzzy socks and massive sweatshirt again because it’s cooled down and you don’t need to turn the AC on anymore, and you want to open your windows again because the air is so crisp, cool and clean. Having candles burning at night just looks and feels heavenly; lighting a lantern or two on your apartment’s outside balcony just seems right.
You have the September issue of Vogue on your coffee table, but you also have a few mini pumpkins beside it and you’re watching a marathon of Hocus Pocus, One True Thing, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Scream, and Halloweentown. You’re feeling nostalgic practically every day and the sun starts to set nearly three hours earlier than it had the month before. You’re not bored, you’re serene. You have a salted caramel chocolate mug cake and you’re so unbothered you wish you could freeze time. And that, my friends, is what it means to relish in those cozy fall days and nights.