I’ve always been an outspoken autumn enthusiast. My affinity for thick knit sweaters and decorative gourd centrepieces cannot be overstated enough. A passion that often has me wrestling another woolly top into my already crowded closet and decorating my countertops in miniature squashes. Though I’ve never jumped on the Pumpkin Spice Latte bandwagon (a beverage enjoyed by what seems like a seasonal cult), anything else fall-related I tend to embrace. This is to the disdain of my more summer-oriented friends who curse the arrival of fall and yearn for the sun-kissed days of July.
My love of fall is vested in the season’s charming hallmarks: the way oak, elm, and crab apple trees—those magical changelings—transition across a spectrum of color, cloaking my neighborhood in autumnal hues of gold and bronze. Or how my favorite, the towering maples, shed their leaves until the sidewalks resemble a crimson carpet. The invigorating crispness of the morning air that spurs me to wrap myself in a thick scarf during my morning walk to work. Or the way I don’t have to apply SPF 100 to my sun-sensitive skin each time I venture outdoors.
My love of autumn is also deeply rooted in the season’s symbolic nature. To me, the fall season signifies new beginnings. A fresh start. A renewed sense of opportunity. This is because autumn will forever in my mind be inextricably linked to the start of the school year. That time of year when I would reveal myself anew to classmates— many of whom I hadn’t seen for an entire summer (those three months, to my adolescent mind, feeling practically like a lifetime). I would emerge from the cocoon of summer a different person. Transformed. Changed. I had a fresh Five Star binder and a mint pair of high-tops to prove it, after all.
September wasn’t just another month in the calendar year. It was when, we as kids, embarked on a new adventure. For me, September stirs up memories of students anxiously milling about in the hallways, comparing schedules to see who else had History during third period and English Lit during fourth. Groaning our disapproval over the teachers we’d been assigned—those notorious for springing pop quizzes or assigning extra homework on weekends. Yelling triumphantly when you realized your good friend is in the same Biology class, thus securing you a reliable lab partner for the next semester. The excitement and nervousness that coursed through my body as I awkwardly shuffled alongside the buzzing ranks of my fellow students. Navigating hallways that I’d walked through hundreds of times before, but that somehow looked different through the matured eyes of a slightly older, and thus (obviously) wiser, teenager.
After so many years of being a student, transitioning from elementary to junior high, high school to university, it’s no wonder that the fall season is forever synonymous with a promising sense of renewal. I remember a few years ago passing by a local high school on my way home from work in early September. I heard the bell ring, and soon saw dozens of students streaming through the main doors until they flooded the front yard and sidewalk in waves of activity. Steering their way through the crowd of their classmates, eager to board school buses or catch rides home. Others walking, thumbs hitched in their backpack straps as they talked animatedly with friends or made their way quietly alone, lost in thought. A sight that made me feel sentimental for the bygone days when I shared in that very same experience. Although my backpack and notebooks have been tucked away for quite some time, the beginning of the school year still marks a meaningful starting point, where anything seems possible.
And so, as I layer on an oversized sweater and swap out my flip-flops for ankle boots, I’m finding myself rather pleased with the transition, both in the change of attire and in the sense of nostalgia that autumn ceremoniously imparts. And while some of you want to “bah humbug” at the looming prospect of snowier days, I hope that you’ll also embrace the brief glimmer that is fall and enjoy it. If only for a moment.