When I lived Back East, autumn was my favorite season. Most people seemed to feel the same way.
Crisp, cool days admiring colourful leaves under a clear blue sky seemed like a just reward for having survived another summer. A summer of mowing lawns in stagnant heat; of humidity that fogged my glasses, momentarily blinding me as I stepped out of my air conditioned car; of being eaten alive by mosquitoes; and of sweat dripping down my neck and legs by the time I went to the mailbox and back.
Autumn really lasts there, too, starting to cool in mid September and stretching all the way past Thanksgiving. With a myriad of trees, the leaves turn shades from crimson to gold, each at their own speed, an ever changing display, that ends just in time for us to wonder if it is cold enough to snow for Christmas. It won’t, most likely, but we all wish it would.
As beautiful as fall would be on its own, the long, hot, nasty summer preceding it made it truly spectacular. That contrast, that is what made autumn my favorite.
Here, in Colorado, summer is not that bad. It’s mostly nice.
Which is nothing to complain about. Nice weather is, well, nice. People move here for the nice weather. Sunny 300 days a year is nice. A sunny winter day is much nicer than a grey winter day.
Nice is not fabulous, though. Nice gets taken for granted. For fabulous, you need to have some misery first.
The weather is rarely miserable here. Summer is hot, but not humid, and nights remain cool. Autumn brings cooler weather, but not different weather. November is the second snowiest month of the year, which makes it sound like winter is long and hard. It’s not. It’s mostly sunny, so the days are pleasant even when the nights are well below freezing. Spring still brings snow, but it, too, is mostly sunny, slowly warming to summer.
This is a semi-arid climate (one step away from desert), and, although, we all dress it up with as much green as we can manufacture with our built in sprinklers, outside the housing developments, it is a world of brown dirt and sparse brown grasses.
Up in the mountains there are trees. Down here on the plains, there are no swathes of forests along the roadways. If you want colour, look up. The sky is almost always blue. Look down, it is brown. Not my favorite colour. I mostly look up.
The only respite is spring, when the snow melts. Spring’s timing is iffy. March is our snowiest month, and it almost always snows in April, usually after the daffodils have bloomed. The experts say to wait until Memorial Day to plant anything. We can’t. We’re impatient. We plant on Mother’s Day, and hope for the best.
Spring is so fleeting. Going from brown to green, or even from sooty snow to green – I spend months anticipating that change. From the time the last rose fades, I am living in a pleasantly sunny brown land, waiting for the earth to turn green.
But, green is not enough on its own.
So I find that in October, I am thinking of spring, about red poppies, pink tulips, yellow daffodils, blue hyacinths, and purple irises. I start thinking that after six months of brown, I will really need more than green. I will want as many colours as I can fit into my small garden beds.
So on this beautiful, warm autumn weekend, I planted more daffodils and blue grape hyacinths, which have proven to withstand spring snows, and I thought about how lovely my garden will be in spring, my new favorite season.
Unless it snows. In May.