Neither. I call this the pre-party to Hell freezing over: winter in Illinois.
In polite company, though, I generally use fall; I find it’s more descriptive. I mean, the temperatures fall, the leaves fall, the light falls, and my spirits, oy, they don’t fall so much as plummet. They rain down like space junk — aaaaaaaaaaahsplat.
Poets and lyricists, however, they prefer autumn. It sounds more romantic, more poetic than plain, old fall. But what, I ask, is romantic about a season defined as “a period of maturity verging on decline” by the American Heritage Dictionary (Fourth Edition)? That sounds more like a sell-by-date than something belonging in verse.
Autumn, I’m sure, would be more popular if it was followed by the delight that is spring. You know, if nature’s cycle went spring, summer, fall, and then right back to spring again. But where’s winter, you wonder? The Arctic Circle, that’s where. The North Pole, the South Pole, Toyland, Siberia, Iceland, places that need sub-zero temperatures and blizzards and icicles and frozen nose hairs. It doesn’t belong here with me. Or I don’t belong here with it — I’d like to live on the equator.
Winter is a bully. Winter is my nemesis. Winter is an endurance test.
Knowing it’s in the wings, feeling its cold, damp breath on my neck is a dreadful, discouraging sensation. I can’t enjoy the bright, bursting colors of the trees or the brittle, papery whisper of leaves skittering along sidewalks or the brisk wind rattling the windowpanes. I can’t. They’re unwelcome reminders of what’s coming next. And soon.
The dog and I, we took our farewell tour of the great outdoors this weekend. We strolled along the bluff above the river, taking pictures and forging bittersweet memories of a time that didn’t cause hypothermia and frostbite and chilblains. There’s a tragic, fleeting loveliness to these waning days, isn’t there? I will mourn their passing.
Before long I’ll be confining myself to the stale, climate-controlled environs of indoors, under a self-imposed house arrest, venturing out only for food and emergencies and an occasional latte. I’ve laid in a stash of books. I’m phat with blankets and long johns and thick, woolly socks. I will survive, but I’ll curse every damn snowflake.
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