Friday, September 29, 2000

Whatever happened to fall?

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you’re at, but here in the northeastern U.S., it’s cold. Not as cold as it’s going to get, to be sure, but colder than it should be in late September. This is a continuation of a trend that’s been going on at least since summer. I can’t say I missed the usual endless days of 90 and 100 degree temperatures, but there was something odd about the not-so-hot hot season. And now, we seem to have lost fall.

I grew up in the Los Angeles area, where people pretend there are seasons but it’s mostly a formality. Some parts of the year are hotter than others, some are colder, some rain more. But you don’t have the extremes of 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity in the summer vs. 20 degrees with a foot of snow in the winter. And so you don’t get those delicate gradations in between--the gradual warming of spring, the growing awareness of a crispness in the air in fall. Fall has been one of my favorite parts of living in this part of the country. The month or so of hanging between weather types--too cold for a t-shirt, not yet cold enough for a jacket--where you could run around in a long-sleeved shirt and enjoy the clear light and the crunchy leaves and the lack of sweat. It’s a cool time of year.

Especially cool this year, unfortunately. Downright blustery some mornings. Usually I stash a few transitional outfits in everybody’s closet and they’re good for about a month of procrastinating in bringing out the winter clothes. Usually I can wait until late October to haul out the heavy sweaters. Usually we don’t need the down jackets on Halloween. But here in late September, I’m already rummaging through storage bags in the morning looking for something warmer to wear.

Isn’t there supposed to be some global warming going on? Can we get some of that over here? Because I’m freezing, and I’m not ready to be freezing yet. Scientists will tell me that the warmer winter will be a sign of that warming, but it won’t be warm enough, and it needs to be warmer now. Temperature perception is definitely a matter of what you’re used to--I’ve worn essentially the same winter clothes for frigid 50-degree winter days in L.A., -20 winter days in Kansas City, and +20 winter days in New Jersey--and what I’m used to now is a little more temperate fall.

Come to think of it, I guess we already had it. In June.

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