Well, the first day of autumn was yesterday, although my Middle School Music students came into class Tuesday saying that their Geography teacher told them 21 September, rather than 22 September, was the first day of this glorious holiday.
I have little idea when the seasons calendrically begin, other than it’s always in the low-twenties of the month: Spring in March, Summer in June, Autumn in September, and Winter in December. As I’ve noted before on this site, in South Carolina it’s all pretty much one big season—summer—with some intermittent sprinklings of the actual season throughout the year. That can even mean a cold front in the summer (Thy Will Be Done) or an unseasonably warm “Indian Summer” in mid-January. I’ve sweated on New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving many times, and it’s always muggy on Halloween.
But I digress. The discussion about when autumn really begins (some Bing!ing revealed it is 22 September this year, not 21 September) led to an impromptu crash course in songwriting. We began listing all of the qualities of the fall, and the qualities of the then-soon-to-be-departing summer. The students then crafted those into verses (about all the fun summertime stuff that was disappearing), with the chorus being all about how great the autumn is: pumpkins, scarecrows, falling leaves, etc.
The kids ate it up. I made up some cheesy crooner melody to go with it as a placeholder, but a precocious seventh grader began experimenting with an unusual C-Db-Eb chord sequence, which completely changed the melody. I broke the students into groups to begin writing new verses, and another student took it upon herself to compile the lyrics into a master Google Doc. Another student—a visual artist trapped in Music class—supplied the artwork for our soon-to-be-hit single, featuring a scarecrow and some other creature dancing around a flaming pumpkin (it’s pretty awesome). Our little scribe-compiler mentioned that we needed a bridge, so we’ll have to get hopping on that.
It was completely unplanned—one student even suggested, snarkily, that I hadn’t planned a lesson that day, so I created this one out of thin air. It’s only half true: I did have a lesson planned—we were going to write, clap, and count rhythm lines—but the discussion of autumn sparked the idea for a much more engaging lesson about writing songs (which is, essentially, writing poetry, but better—there’s music attached!).
Anyway, here’s to autumnal weather to come—and good, middle school-penned songs to go with it.
It is—to use a Southern expression—hotter than blue blazes here in South Carolina, as it always is in early September. Lately, the extreme heat and humidity have made any outdoor activities unbearable, at least for yours portly. The air is thick and muggy.
But there is some relief in sight. We’ve had some rainy days here and there that have given brief—fleetingly brief!—tastes of autumn.
Autumn is, by far, my favorite season. After the brutal oppression of summer, autumn is a welcome relief. Autumn in South Carolina is brief, but lovely—the days are warm, the nights crisp. The season makes it stately arrival fashionably late, usually late in October or early in November (though Halloween always manages to be hot; just once I want an Indiana Halloween!).
The cooler weather brings with it better smells: pumpkins and spices replace the persistent smell of cut grass and sweat. Food tastes better in autumn, too. There’s a reason candy apples are an autumnal fair food: that thick, sugary, caramel coating wouldn’t last in the humidity of summer. There’s also the pies: pecan and pumpkin, of course, but also sweet potato.
Oh, and there’s college football. The SEC hasn’t (yet) betrayed fans like the West Coast conferences.
So, here’s hoping autumn returns sooner rather than later to South Carolina this year. With that hope—and prayer—in mind, whip out the pumpkin spice and enjoy November 2019’s “The Joy of Autumn“:
It was a hot and muggy Halloween here in South Carolina (with tornado warnings mid-trick-or-treating!), but my complaints about the season’s distinct lack of autumnality must have worked: we’ve had a crisp, cold week. Indeed, in true South Carolina fashion, we’ve largely skipped autumn and have headed directly to winter (of course, don’t be surprised if it’s 80 degrees on Thanksgiving Day).
I’m getting excited for Thanksgiving. It’s been busy at work lately, and the natives are restless. Teachers know when students need a break—there’s a weirdness to the atmosphere, and you can almost feel the kids clawing at the walls. As a Leftie British colleague of mine once quipped, “You Americans think it’s a good idea to have eighteen weeks of school without a break.” Usually I’m not one for foreign interlopers critiquing our awesome country, but even a progressive Briton is right now and then.
Mainly, though, I’m excited for some downtime with the family, with lots of filling food and cold, crisp days. Sweater weather, as the vapid co-eds call it, has arrived, and I welcome it happily. Like the vapid co-eds, I like all the pumpkin spice stuff, too.
So does controversial dissident blogger Z Man, who wrote a wonderful little piece about “Autumn Joy” a few weeks back. Z Man’s clear-eyed, if contentious, view of our current civilizational collapse is frequently heavy—it’s a real drag contemplating our society’s cultural implosion—so it was refreshing to read something marginally more positive from him.
Fall is, of course, the best season. For Southerners, it’s a reprieve from eight months of brutal heat and humidity, and all the bugs die. While our unfortunate friends to the North experience freezing temperatures by late October (not to mention they live in God-forsaken Blue States, dominated by shrieking harpies), we at least get a taste of autumnal glory. We also have football.
Z Man’s post echoes many of my own feelings about fall. The cold air sharpens the mind, and invigorates thinking. In typical Z Man fashion, his joy of the season is tinged with a certain Schadenfreude: he enjoys watching people who hate the cold squirm, as he considers the “endless summer” types to be unserious sorts. That might be a stretch, but I enjoy those kinds of sweeping generalizations, and there’s a ring of Truth to it: if you want to live in endless summer, in a world without seasons, you’re trying to escape reality.
The autumn drives home that Nature is moving, whether we like it or not, and we’re susceptible to its whims. It’s a reminder, too, of the seasons of life, and that we’re all part of a grand, endless cycle—something Solomon lamented in Ecclesiastes. It puts some of our present problems in perspective—in a cosmic sense, they’re not that important. God is in control of this merry-go-round.
Z Man also writes about the Danish concept of “hygge,” the cozy season, or a state of convivial coziness. The cold closes in around us, so we bundle up in our warm homes, enjoying hot cocoa or coffee or tea, spending time together and enjoying the quietude of long nights. One of my favorite aspects of fall and winter is that sensation of coming in from the cold into a warm house, and the feeling of contentment and security of being in from the elements. It’s the same reason I love rainy days.
That desire for cozy togetherness explains the unfortunate concept of “cuffing season.” Back in the dark days of 2018 through very early 2019, when I found myself in an astonishingly different online dating environment than what existed in 2016-2017 (a topic for another blog post, perhaps), I came across this whorish concept on the various meat-market dating apps available now. Apparently, a lot of independent women who don’t need no man still get cold, and want to date men just from November through February to get the simulacrum of a relationship. That’s just one of a myriad examples of how bad dating has gotten.
But I digress. Here are Z Man’s concluding thoughts from his post, quoted at length:
I think the thing I like most about this time of year is the shorter days or that the days are growing shorter. I am at my most productive in the fall and winter, as the ever shorter days reminds me that I have only so much time. When the sun is up until a few hours before bed time, it feels like time comes to a crawl. When you wake in the dark and come home in the dark, you have no illusions about time. Every rustle of the leaves is like a giant clock striking the hour. Best get at it.
In Denmark, they call this the cozy season or the start of the cozy season. They have a word for it, “hygge” which roughly means “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” They take all their fun indoors, where they will turn the lights down, sit by the fire and have conversation with friends and family. In Lagos [Baltimore, Maryland], we include the sound of sirens and gunfire, but the concept is the same. I’m looking forward to the hygge.
I wholeheartedly agree. Let’s get to work—and get to the hygge!