Just before I wrote this, somebody told me it was the first day of autumn.
What -- we're doing that again?
When was I to be notified of this? Or was everyone afraid to mention it to me? We didn't even have a summer this year, did we? Have I been sleeping too long again?
Okay, the truth is we did have a summer, and what a summer it was – although if you averaged this one and the last one they were about normal. I spent most of the summer of 2009 hovering over my fireplace, which was a challenge because I don’t have a fireplace.
It turns out that a campfire in your bathtub doesn’t work out nearly as well as you might think. It reduced my water heating bill, but the cleanup cost was horrendous.
It can be hard to complain about the arrival of autumn, when you consider the temperature here in northern Indiana hit a record high that first day. Even I don't like 93 degrees, after all, and I've been known to empty entire buildings after getting access to the thermostat. (By the way, what does “El Diablo” mean, and why do people say it whenever I get control of the room temperature?)
Honestly, I don't have a problem with it being warm, instead of hot. In fact, I’d prefer it.
I do, however, have a problem with getting cold, and there's the trouble with early fall: It's followed by late fall, which is then followed by winter. The beginning of autumn is like a sneeze: It's not so bad -- even a relief, in a way. But then comes another sneeze, and a runny nose, and a cough, and before you know it you're in the intensive care unit with two IV drips while your relatives fight over your Elvis commemorative plate collection.
In other words, autumn by itself isn’t so bad, but the stuff that follows is awful.
Let me tell you the same thing I've been telling my friends for weeks now: This is going to be a terrible winter. I don't know if it's going to be unusually cold (as opposed to usually cold), but it's going to be snowy, real snowy, Blizzard of '78 snowy, early 80's "are we approaching a new Ice Age" snowy.
Pardon if I'm using that S word to excess. It hurts my ears, but you need to hear it.
I had nothing more to go on than my gut in making this declaration, but my gut has been right before on these things. It predicted our current recession, the election of President Obama, the rise of "reality" television, and the general conditions for four out of the last eight winters. Okay, so the winter average isn't so great, but if it was baseball I’d be investigated for steroid use.
I'm backed up by the Farmer's Almanac, which came out a few weeks after I started predicting a snowy winter. According to the Almanac, which has a remarkable success rate despite its lack of gut, winter in this area will, in 2010-11, be -- snowy.
Yet another example of how accurate I can be when predicting doom and gloom. Why do none of my good predictions ever come true? If the Almanac and I both predicted a good winter, I'd bring their average down through sheer Murphy's Law contrariness. It's not fair to only be right when predicting bad stuff. I'm the Eeyore of prognostication.
Don't get me wrong: early autumn really is beautiful here in northern Indiana. The foliage colors are indescribably, so I will now describe them: They’re the orange of your elementary school Thanksgiving decorations, the red of a Christmas tree light (pardon me for using that word in what is, at the moment, September), sometimes even the purple of a friendly kid’s show stuffed monster that haunts your nightmares as an adult. Early on, the greens gain this multi-hued assortment in trees, brush and crops that break up the sharper sameness of summertime.
The sky becomes actually bluer than blue. I don’t know how it does it. Imagine blue, then think … bluer. Kind of like when you think politicians can’t spend any more money, but then they go for broke.
Then, just when everything’s at its prettiest and there are only a few leaves blowing around on the ground – wham.
That first cold, windy rainstorm of mid-autumn comes through, and in a matter of maybe three minutes all the leaves fall from the trees except for that one branch of dried up, curled, brown ones that stay up there just to make the tree look even more pitiful. You make plans to go out and rake the next day, then wake up to find that all too familiar white stuff lining the black, empty branches, and as you try to push those wet leaves toward the curb a big glob of slush drops right down the back of your neck.
Then it’s not so beautiful anymore, is it? Then, quite frankly, it stinks. Sure, there are a few artificial holidays coming up. The first is Halloween, also known as National Extortion Day (although it’s tied for that title with April 15th), when all the kids dress as the people you don’t want them to grow up to be and commit licensed door to door robbery.
The second is Thanksgiving, which used to celebrate the harvest but is now used mostly to put on a layer of fat and dope us up on extra turkey, so we can go a few more precious weeks before it really hits us that winter will soon be here and there’s not a darn thing we can do about it.
So: Happy autumn, everyone!
Remember, you can’t hover over the campfire in your bathtub forever: There’s carbon monoxide to consider. So do your best to persevere, and remember that just when you think you’ll be reduced to an unmoving lump, you’ll have your change to get outside and warm up that chilled body with some practical, healthy exercise.
Also called snow shoveling.