The Attributes of Autumn

By Jade Walker


My favorite time of year has arrived, and I'm reveling in all its many elements.

Autumn seems to be the ugly stepdaughter in the Seasons family. Each year, it arrives with a hint of mystery, a whiff of fire and a promise of change. Instead of enjoying this short time of year, though, everyone I know is grousing about its downsides.

Yes, the days are getting shorter. But I think of this as a blessing. For a night owl, long stretches of darkness are much more comfortable than the glaring countenance of the summer sun. Bring on the night, I say, and let us use the darkness to see the world in a new fashion.

Yes, the weather is getting colder. As a recent transplant to New York, I had to do some thrifty shopping to refill my wardrobe with jackets, gloves and sweaters.

For the past 10 years, I've suffered with one monotonous, yearlong season of warmth. Even on Christmas, the sky was always blue and the temperature in the 80s. Sure it's nice once in a while, but nothing beats the changing of the seasons.

So instead of complaining about the weather, I've stocked up on hot tea and cocoa and asked the landlord to start using a heater in the evenings. If Fate determines that I find a nice guy in the dating pool of this metropolis, I may just take advantage of the weather and commence in a marathon of cuddling.

Yes, the world appears to be dying. But with that death comes the yearly harvest of greenery. Look out your window and see a worldwide cemetery of leafy corpses. Colorful and crunchy, the trees shed their unwanted load and blanket the ground with yellows, oranges and reds.

Yes, summer has ended, and its demise certainly heralds the finale to barbecues and pool parties. But it also means the conclusion to many months of migraine headaches, mosquito bites, sunburns, TV reruns and lousy movies.

I love Autumn. As soon as October arrives, my whole outlook kicks into "upbeat" mode. Perhaps it's because the next few months are filled with so many holidays.

In October, I get to watch "The Crow" and celebrate Devil's night. I'll perform tarot readings and scrying on Samhain. I'll scrounge through cemeteries, take crypt tours and read lots of Edgar Allan Poe and Neil Gaiman. I'll buy bags of candy for neighborhood children (who amazingly never seem to appear at my door), and spend Halloween dressed up as Medusa while attending a vampire's ball in the Village.

Then in November, I intend to take a week off for a vacation (my first one in years), and spend the entire time relaxing and working on my novel. Thanksgiving will be filled with homemade food and candle-laden pieces of pumpkin pie -- perfect for making birthday wishes.

Most of my friends have birthdays in December, so that month will bring lots of parties and gatherings. I love buying presents for people -- when I can afford to do so -- and nothing beats the look on their faces when they see I've given them the perfect gift.

Just when you think you can't take any more of this beautiful season, Autumn whispers away by quietly announcing the arrival of the winter solstice.

For the next few, short weeks, compliment the spirit of this season by celebrating its constant, breathless changes. I know I will.

Want to celebrate Autumn?

* Find out why the leaves change colors

* If you use a PC, download some free, foliage screensavers

* Got a Mac? Then send your friends an Autumn postcard

* Before you take a drive to New England, be sure to read the Fall Foliage Report

* Don't live in the north? No problem ­ find the perfect fall foliage near you