I am sure you noticed the sun’s daily path tracing an ever lower and shorter parabola across our day’s sky. We have now passed the recent equinox when the sun shone directly on the equator and equally on both hemispheres. Autumn has arrived in America. With it comes a wave of associated feelings that are sometimes in flux over our lifetime. While all the seasons smack of treasured memories and activities specific to the time of year, it is the fall that we prefer the most.

 

You may have guessed summer, but it’s only those Americans thirty-five and under who prefer summer when asked for their favorite quarter of a year. It just makes sense that summer’s freedom and warmth win over our youngest half. However, I perceive that our regard for the fall comparatively improves as we get longer in the tooth.

 

A recent survey (YouGovAmerica) touts autumn as our collective top choice! That poll, of course, includes the discerning citizens who are north of thirty-five. It’s apparent, as we age; a transformation of seasonal partiality takes place. So what do you suppose is behind this evolution of allegiance with autumn?

“Autumn has arrived in America. With it comes a wave of associated feelings that are sometimes in flux over our lifetime.”

An easy answer may involve our culture’s “back to school” trepidation associated with the end of summer. Younger American’s have obviously let this cloud their best season choice. Remember during your youth when you realized endless summer was just a movie? Quite suddenly, the carefree days and nights of summer gave way to daylight savings time and, for me, hand–me-down sweaters. Worse yet, my parents were tied-in to the start of the school year. Dad taught and Mom tutored.

 

I recall the entire comfortable dynamic of the home shifting. I lamented older siblings leaving our lively home for distant colleges. The quiet emptiness was impactful. I found myself trying on bulky school clothes in department stores and cramming the final (okay all!) chapters of summer reading. An echoed warning of “no T.V. on school nights” rang throughout the final August days.

 

The new season of slow death in our modest garden harkened the stark reality of responsibilities and less fun until the holidays. So personally, I understand that in one’s formative years, school-related angst unfairly attaches itself to the approaching fall season. Fortunately for many of us, this stress ceases as we move beyond our formal education.

“An echoed warning of “no T.V. on school nights” rang throughout the final August days.”

Yet lurking next, our scholastic lives change over to nascent work careers. The immunity from fall seriousness is short-lived. It must be through our early Thirties that autumn remains a time paired with expected productivity and little coasting. It just lodges in our young adult subconsciousness that fall equals a tougher more demanding schedule.

 

Farmers will tell you they work hardest during the harvest. In business, the vacations and the lax oversight of summer all fade away. Bosses direct salesmen to beat the bushes with a renewed purpose for sales and corporate projects have Christmas deadlines. The retail sector busies to gain higher year end numbers. Younger Americans must wonder if the annual grind paired with the year’s final months will ever end!

“It just lodges in our young adult subconsciousness that fall equals a tougher more demanding schedule.”
Well not really. As I see it, the child-rearing and toil continue but the perception of fall softens. It probably is around thirty-five years old when attentive parents start to welcome the season to hand off to school professionals. We surely love our kids but enough is enough after long hot summers of chaos. The doting peters out and “me time” becomes gold, which happens to be the gloaming hue of many a current engaging horizon. At work, it’s evidently near our mid-thirties that we settle in to find a balance and a slower more efficient, less emotional approach. The experience of having revved–up to apply ourselves during multiple falls, has to eventually (35 yr.’s old) foster a fresh sense of, I got this! America’s retirees have now mastered travel and leisure during this shoulder season when temperatures moderate and the crowds are manageable. The eldest set of Americans have learned to understand and experience the rightful glory of autumn. Note the new fall foliage tour industry and our expansion of Octoberfest celebrations. There is a tipping of the opinion scale away from summer. Relaxing by a rustic cottage, watching a football game, we can sip on craft beer around a fire pit and wonder what all the earlier fussing was about. Miss the heat? No worries, global warming has extended us plenty of “Indian Summer”.
“At work, it’s evidently near our mid-thirties that we settle in to find a balance and a slower more efficient, less emotional approach.”

Seasoned now, we look forward to Homecoming at the same schools where a return once stirred worry. We mature to knowingly accept the structure implicit in fall. Once we truly resist pinning the unnerving start of the academic year’s regimen to fall. Once the daunting, expected effort at work isn’t mentally one with the progressively shorter evenings, we notice that September rules! We are so relieved; we’ll even ride on hay and try all things pumpkin!

To the youngest half of our population, I say- have patience with autumn, you’ll come around to fancy it best! I could have the turning point at 35 years old wrong. It’s only one survey, but it’s a tidy number. Inexplicably, I crave order this time of year.

JAH

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John Hughes

John Hughes

John Hughes hails from Wilmington, Delaware. He has lived throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England in his 35 years working in the Commercial Furniture Industry. He remains an active parent of 2 children in their twenties and enjoys running and golfing.

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