Autumn is a second spring when every leaf's a flower. -- Albert Camus
I love autumn. It's so much more than just one of the four temperate seasons, merely marking the transition from summer to winter. It's a virtual cornucopia of color, cool breezes, miniature candy bars and the occasional cornucopia. Here are a few awesome autumnal elements:
The free samples of spiced hot cider that the friendly clerks hand out in little paper cups as you walk in the door of Williams-Sonoma. The idea is to entice you to purchase their special mulling spices (Epices a Vin Chaud) which are about $10 a tin, which seems like a lot for a handful of orange peel, allspice, cinnamon and clove, but it's totally worth every scent.
You cradle your paper cup as you sip and shop. Or sip and pretend to shop because you can't afford much other than one can of the spices and maybe a melon baller, so you sneak another free cup of cider at the counter when the clerk's busy ringing up a $300 Technivorm Moccamaster Cylindrical Body Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe in Brushed Silver, then you scuttle out and go buy an Anrik coffee pot at IKEA for $30.
Three little notes on the piano -- one beat of C-sharp, two beats at F-sharp in the octave below, then back up to C-sharp (I researched all this on my piano keyboard). Repeat in rapid succession, then throw in an eerie D. It's less complicated than Chopsticks, but far, far more sinister, instantly making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, shiver violently, then go hide under the bed. The tune evokes the image of a young Jamie Lee Curtis, meat cleaver in hand, fending off the creepy Michael Myers back before she started advertising yogurt with creepy probiotics.
Yes, it's the theme from the original 1978 "Halloween" slasher flick. Strains of it play in every Halloween supply store or even in the seasonal section of Walgreens where it drifts over into the shampoo aisle like a foreboding fog and you swear you're being watched by someone in a hockey mask as your peruse the Pantene offerings and your neck hairs abandon you, cowering somewhere in allergy-relief products. I'm listening to the score right now at http://bit.ly/RbGxar and it's creeping me out.
Cinnamon brooms, $3.99 at Trader Joe's. They're real little mini brooms, the perfect size on which small witches could zip around like the giddy witch in the broom factory in the new Geico commercials. I guess these are not for flying, though, so much as décor -- to put by the fireplace or front door -- but they certainly cast a spell of smell in your house. In a good way.
Wood smoke in the air, on a non-Spare-the-Air Day, so there's no guilt involved.
Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin anything, really. Pumpkin pancakes from a Martha Stewart recipe I ripped out of a magazine. The pumpkin cookie with spiced frosting in the bakery section at Draeger's in Menlo Park. Pumpkin spice lattes at Peet's.
While I like the idea of pumpkin spice lattes, I don't like pumpkin spice flavor combined with coffee flavor. Same with gingerbread flavor and coffee flavor, and eggnog flavor and coffee flavor, but that's another holiday coffee flavor story.
The trademark scent of Halloween: the aroma that emerges when you jab a kitchen knife into an unsuspecting pumpkin, open a hole in its scalp, scrape out its guts then roast and eat its babies. Ah, good times.
"The Simpsons" Halloween specials, AKA "Treehouse of Horror." Treehouse No. 5,247,398 just aired (actually No. 23), but the earlier ones are the best. Like when Mr. Burns is Dracula sporting a double-beehive hairdo, or when Homer sells his soul for a "forbidden doughnut," or when Kodos and Kang body-snatch Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. Politicians are from another planet? Shocked, I say!
Falling back. An extra hour of sleep. Payback for saving daylight all summer.
Buying a pumpkin. Still fun, though different these days. You either get your gourdes at the grocery store (yawn), or at a "patch" populated by giant blowup slides and bounce houses in the shapes of massive animals. Nothing says autumn like a giant inflatable shark.
Pumpkin pie. Did I mention pumpkin pie? Yes, I really love pumpkin pie.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. -- George Eliot