Thursday, September 3, 2015

A September Song: the calm before the storm.

August of 2015 has taken its place in the history books, stepping aside to allow September to take center stage for its brief moment in time.  Before we know it, the year’s ninth month will likewise join its dog days predecessor on Memory Lane.  But for now, this is September’s turn to shine on time’s unrelenting stage.

Behold, the beginning of my undisputed favorite season of the year.

We’ve already lost more than an hour’s daylight since the peak of Sol’s warming power back in late June.  Most schools are back in session now much to the dismay of billions of students; the sigh of relief likewise breathed by billions of American moms is almost deafening (“Finally, I have the house to myself!”).  Retailers across America are tallying up their profits from their “back-to-school” sales.

The baseball season is winding down as the out-of-contention teams play out their schedules and call up hopeful prospects from the minor leagues to “show us what you’ve got.”  The playoff contenders, on the other hand, are gearing up for the season’s home stretch and plotting strategies to be one of the “IN” teams once the rough-and-tumble jockeying for coveted playoff berths has ended.

True die-hard baseball fans are already dreaming about the upcoming playoffs and the generations-old thrills of the Fall Classic now mere weeks away.

Football’s preseason tweaking is nearly done as teams survey the gridiron landscape and start mapping out their pressure-packed crusades to a Super Bowl championship.  Pigskins and players alike will be flying through the air with reckless abandon in pursuit of the “Hail Mary” pass, the extra yard, the first down, and the “plane of the goal line” so near yet so far away.

January gridiron glory (as well as product endorsements and commercials up the wazoo) await that group of men equal to this Herculean task; the rest will need to content themselves with the ubiquitous wait 'til next year.

Will the last team standing again be the group from New England with their deflated balls (don't even think about commenting!)?  Could it be the team from the Mile-High City with their air-loving quarterback?  Perhaps a sleeper team like the retooled, rebuilt, and restaffed Chicago Bears will emerge from their hibernation and stake out their dens within the mountain of Super Bowl gold.

Who knows?

The American football season is the stuff of bar room wagers, Sunday afternoons of pizza, nachos, and beer, and Monday-morning quarterbacking at the office water cooler.  It’s an autumn ritual like raking leaves, storing away the lawn furniture, and getting reacquainted with your favorite sweatshirt.

And it starts in September … right now.

Not about to be left out of the fall sports euphoria, hoop fans and hockey fans are also anxiously awaiting tip-offs and face-offs as they anticipate three-pointers and slap shots being driven into the opposing team’s nets by their home-team superstars.

In sports bars across the country, basketball fans are again plotting to ensure that LeBron James is again deprived of an NBA championship ring; hockey fans are likewise calculating the odds of the Chicago Blackhawks capturing yet another Stanley Cup.

On a more natural plane, the grasp of summer’s oppressive heat and humidity will soon be broken and meekly surrender to pleasantly cool days and crisp nights.

I so look forward to Mother Nature’s annual fall color spectacular as she paints her domain with a brilliant palette of red, gold, yellow, orange, and crimson.  As though bidding us a fond farewell before the stark days of winter, the trees explode with vitality one last time in the waning sunlight and chilly autumn air before surrendering their colorful finery to the ground and falling quiet until next spring.

What could be more soul-satisfying than a lazy autumn stroll with the crunch of leaves underfoot, the fading sunshine, the invigorating breezes, and that distinctive “scent” of approaching snow in the air?

Autumn is such a sad, melancholy time.  Perhaps because it is—of course--a season of endings: of hot weather, thunderstorms, iced tea, lemonade, picnics, days at the beach, playing outdoors, warm nights, cooling breezes, gardening, and long, lazy afternoons dozing on the porch swing.  However, within its brief embrace, nature consoles us with fall colors, apple cider, pumpkin pie, the harvest moon, frosty nights, sweatshirts, hayrides, hot toddies, and the abundant harvest from the farmer’s labors.

But this season is also one of promise: of the first snowfall, the upcoming holiday season, hot chocolate, family gatherings, candy canes, icicles, holiday dinners, Santa Claus, snowball fights, those wonderful generations-old carols, egg nog, cuddling under a blanket before the fireplace, and all those special (and sometimes delightfully silly) moments that are born of that “most wonderful time of the year.”

With autumn’s arrival, you can juuuuust see it all on the horizon.

Don’t worry; it’s coming.  As soon as the nights become long and decidedly cold, things will start happening quickly.

By mid-October, many retailers will already be decked out in their holiday merchandising best.  I fully expect to see the first Santa Claus well before Halloween‘s ghosts and goblins have embarked upon their annual trick-or-treat trek (try saying THAT 5 times fast!).  Christmas carols will be in the air and blending with the tantalizing aroma of Thanksgiving turkeys.

Be forewarned: the supermarket will find the Christmas turkeys fighting the Thanksgiving birds for freezer space.

Be careful, dear reader; it could get bloody in there!

Once the holiday frenzy reaches its insane peak, psychiatrists everywhere will be treating patients tormented by nightmares of being buried alive by avalanches of cranberry sauce, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  Millions of people will cry out for relief from beloved Christmas carols so cruelly mangled into mindless merchandising jingles.  The ghosts of turkeys past, present, and future will roam the earth to avenge the people who had feasted upon them.

Calorie counts will soar out of control like the national debt.  For those of us who simply cannot resist the temptation of an extra mug of egg nog or one last cream puff (ME!), Congress will have no choice but to enact emergency legislation requiring each and every American to purchase and carry Christmas Gluttony Insurance.  This law will come to be known as … you guessed it … SantaCare!

The consequences could be catastrophic. 

Yet another generation of American children will be forever disillusioned by the sight of Santa on television hawking everything from veggie slicers to cell phones, from computers to insurance, from cars to cable TV, from big-screen televisions to rotisserie ovens, and from energy drinks to video games.

I predict that this Yuletide will find Jolly Old Saint Nick the victim of an attempted sleighjacking.  Luckily, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will thwart this dastardly deed by taking cellphone video of the entire disgusting episode and posting it on YouTube.

That, dear reader, will be history’s ultimate viral video!

Oh, the humanity!

I’m simply not ready for all that craziness yet.

Considering what awaits us in the coming months, why don’t we simply relax and enjoy the peace of this quiet, reflective time of year?  Why don’t we savor the falling leaves, the crisp temperatures, the cozy nights by the fireplace, and the mugs of steaming apple cider while we’re lucky enough to have them?  Mother Nature blesses us with this magnificent season for such a brief period that it somehow seems so wrong to waste it mourning for the departing summer.

Enjoy autumn’s peace and quiet, dear reader.

They won’t be here for long. 

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