"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." -- From the movie, You've Got Mail
It's back-to-school time and for me it's the best time of year. Of course, I don't like seeing the end of my summer, but September and fall, I love them.
Here, let me count the ways:
1. High school football! Pom-poms, majorettes, confetti, Friday nights, hot dogs, Cokes, marching bands, dance teams, cheerleaders. The enthusiasm is contagious and even though I'm well, well, well (OK, enough!!) past those years, I still get emotional with the first drum cadence of the season.
2. Staples and Office Max became my afternoon destination. Meandering through the aisles looking for colorful note cards and Post-its; red, blue, black, green, purple, and pink pens; No. 2 pencils; glow-in-the-dark copy paper; desk organizers; file folders; labels; and much more to start the new year fresh was an afternoon experience.
3. Dry Air! Yes, I said dry air. For a few frizz-free weeks in the fall, the humidity goes down and the temperature stays warm. Naturally curly, unruly hair becomes manageable and darn near straight, a dream I've had since I was 14. In the summer humidity after a day at the beach, or just outside in the humidity, I looked like a Carmen Miranda impersonator. You know the picture, a woman with the fruit on her head as an adornment?
In the '60s and '70s I longed for Joan Baez hair or hair like Mary Allin Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary. Parted in the middle, long and straight, no matter the weather. I also yearned for their vocal talent. What I got instead was hair so unpredictable that I never went on a swimming date.
A long walk in the moonlight was misery for me because when the walk was over and the fluorescent lights of the dorm lobby hit me, I had gone from Mary Travers (a look I'd achieved after hours of work under a hair-dryer bonnet with juice cans for rollers. Then a straightening iron that had absolutely no high-heat monitor or automatic off switch. You could get third-degree burns on the side of your face and burn your dorm to the ground if you weren't careful) to Angela Davis in less than an hour. Dry air is my friend.
4. Colors! Red, Orange, Yellow, Apricot, Asparagus, Bittersweet, Brick Red, Burnt Orange, Burnt Sienna, Atomic Tangerine, Copper, Gold, Golden Rod, Indian Red, Mahogany, Dandelion, Neon Carrot, Olive Green, Vivid Tangerine, Radical Red, Raw Sienna, Razzmatazz Red, Sun Glow, Sunset Orange, Torch Red, Scarlett, Outrageous Orange, Laser Lemon, Unmellow Yellow, Sunset Orange.
If a trip to Maine or other parts north are out of the question, come to Western Pennsylvania during the first two weeks of October. The Allegheny Mountains are awash with the colors of fall and splash against the sky an artist's palate of reds, oranges and yellows...and variations of those colors as mentioned above from the 64 count box of Crayola crayons. :)
5. Pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and cornstalks. Who doesn't like to hike through the pumpkin patch and find the perfect one on which to carve a scary face and frighten the beejeebers out of the little kids who come to the door? Or, bedeck their yard with bales of hay, pumpkins and mums?
6. Apples and apple cider. Simmer a pot of cider on the stove with a few sticks of cinnamon and guests will think they've walked onto Walton's Mountain in the fall.
7. Did I mention dry air and straight hair. :)
8. Fall clothes! Love, love, love fall clothes with just enough coverage to hide troublesome spots, yet still light enough to be comfortable and fashionable.
9. Chrysanthemums! Putting pots of these fall beauties all over the porch and deck was a refreshing renew from the wilted and dead summer flowers.
10. You can smell fall! You know you can.
11. New students. Teaching is a great profession and I loved it. My students were funny and nice and each year I got a whole bunch of new ones. Oh sure, a few here and there would curl my hair... Ha!... as if. (See No. 3 and 7.) But for the most part, they were wonderful.
The first day of school, September and fall were New Year's Day for me. When I taught I started fresh and reinvented myself in September. All the missteps of the previous year were forgotten, and promises were made to myself to do an even better job in the new year.