Now read that title carefully – that’s how to start fall, as in the season, not how to start a fall, like Chevy Chase.
Depending on what source you consult (and believe), autumn began either this past Saturday, Sunday, or today. It is marked by an equinox – a day in which light and dark are near enough to equal that we don’t notice the difference. Sometimes this day comes during a heat wave that leads us to ignore the calendar. But this year, at least in my home town, fall dawned coolish, dampish, and generally autumnal enough to prompt my credulity.
Okay, it’s fall. How to start it off right? Here’s my list:
1. Start raking leaves. If you don’t have any leaves in your yard (or if you don’t have a yard), go to your neighbor’s and rake their leaves. If no leaves have fallen there yet, don’t fret. Just knock a bunch off their trees. And if you get distracted halfway through the job, don’t worry. Your neighbor will be pleased you made the effort!
2. Bake an apple pie. Add lots of cinnamon to the filling – no, more than that. A little more. Ah, that’s about right. Then bring it to your neighbor, who is calling the police to report a vandal has been about, banging things into trees to knock all the leaves off. Cheer him up by sharing your pie!
3. Go back to school. Better yet, just go to your local store to buy school supplies. Brand-new pencils, number 2 Conestogas! Unmarred pink erasers! Clean paper – college ruled – by the sheaf! Those really cool “theme” notebooks with the black-and-white semi-psychedelic covers, like a b&w rendition of a Grateful Dead album – buy a pack of those! Staplers with boxes full of staples, rolls of cellophane tape. Oh, my, god: Pee Chees! Make sure you have plenty of markers to color in the athletes and cheerleaders, and to write the name of your true love (this week) on the inside!
4. Call your mother to wish her a happy autumn, and quiz her on the “weights and measures” conversion tables inside your Pee Chee. She’ll remember!
5. Dig all your favorite sweaters out of the very back of your closet. Remind yourself how much you love wearing them, and really don’t need any new ones this year. Except maybe that adorable blue one you saw last week… and that really cute green one that looks a lot like the green one you bought last fall except this year’s green is a little more olive, and a little less sage… and you don’t have an orange one already, do you? Because this fall is all about orange…
6. Don’t think about winter: gallons of rain, piles of snow, sheets of ice, broken car heaters, gale-force winds, only four hours of daylight, heating bills that could fund a small emerging nation, all those little balls of fuzz on your favorite sweaters. Don’t think about it, I said!
7. Take your dog for a walk in the crisp fall air, and let him kick the leaves strewn about your neighbor’s yard. (Darn neighbor, never rakes his leaves, but at least the dog enjoys it!)
8. Plan your Halloween Jack-o-Lantern. Remember your neighbor’s Jack-o-Lantern display last year, the one that included pumpkins carved to look like Captain Jack Sparrow, the Joker (as played by Heath Ledger), and Elvis (the young, handsome one and the old, fat one)? You will outdo that neighbor this year! You will carve a Jack-o-Lantern that tells the entire story of the Headless Horseman, with Ichabod Crane as played by Heath Ledger dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow channeling Elvis! (The young handsome one, there’s no point including the old fat one, stupid neighbor!)
9. Buy argyle knee socks to go with all your new cute fall sweaters, and daydream about wearing them while writing the great American novel in your cool semi-psychedelic theme books.
10. Remember that “equinox” is all about balance. Equal amounts of light and dark. As the world spins, it takes us through periods of blinding light and deepest dark. It makes us dizzy with change. But for a day, we can experience balance. Breathe it in, and appreciate how everything turns, sooner or later.