TBT^2: The Joy of Autumn

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.

With that, here is “TBT: The Joy of Autumn” (thanks to Pontiac Dreamer for today’s picture!):

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!


31 thoughts on “TBT^2: The Joy of Autumn

  1. “calendrically”. Is that really a word? If it isn’t, it should be. Calendrically. That’s a hum-dinger right there.

    It must a symptom of living in the South. Did a Saturday article for NEO yesterday that had a prominent fall theme. Folks who in live in colder climes don’t seem to understand that we Southerners live our calendar in reverse of theirs, so to speak. Fall and winter comes up North, folks bundle up and move indoors til at least spring, sometimes even later. Fall and winter comes down South and we finally get to open the windows and turn off the air conditioner (if we’re lucky). We get to wear things like shirts with actual sleeves and pants that actually rest at the ankle. Shoes. Real shoes. You know – tops, bottoms, sides, toe covers … shoes! I’m not sure about South Carolina but here in Florida, if you live south of Frostproof, Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually right around 83 d.F. and sometimes higher – takes real dedication to turn the oven on and heat the house that had finally cooled off naturally.

    But I was born and raised up North. Even after all these years (40!), I still miss Fall. The air changes and becomes freshened and invigorating. The deep green of summer slowly turns more somber colors so that the new colors appearing in trees can have all the attention. There’s something very fitting about Fall – the plants and flowers curl up for their naps, the ground takes a deep sigh, and all the land prepares for that fluffy pillow of snow to complete their sleep. I love Fall.

    Just not in Florida.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Spellcheck did not flag “calendrically,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, haha. If it isn’t a word, I’m coining it now.

      Yes, fall in Florida sounds unpleasant, merely due to the _lack_ of a true fall. This morning it is crisp and cool in South Carolina, after a very humid, somewhat hot day yesterday. The humidity finally broke into thunderstorms and generous rainfall last night, which apparently brought a nice cooling effect. It looks like the lows for this weekend are around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so that’s encouraging. My fig tree’s leaves have started to turn, and I’m noticing little bits of red and yellow and gold and orange here and there.

      I will say, while I wish we had more snow in South Carolina, I’m thankful we don’t have blankets of it for months on end.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A most enjoyable read Tyler. It is definitely autumn here on this Sceptered Isle. Cool mornings, sunny days interspersed with grey mist and condensation on the window of my tatty old Honda if I go out early. I bought a few blackberries today to make a little tart (pie) later in the week as I did not go out to pick any. It was one of Tyrannical Ma’s favourite pastimes and one of the rare occasions when she took exercise by walking up the mountain behind where we lived to find the best patches of brambles. Autumn is the harbinger of Christmas for me and a young friend emailed both her uncle – who is a great chum of mine – and me on September 1st to cheer at the prospect of Advent only two months away. The three of us are giddy with excitement. My Spotify Christmas playlist is over eleven hours long as I constantly find new treasures to add to it. It is mostly choral music with a smattering of soloists and duets. Next week is Christmas pudding week but the mincemeat is already done as I made so much last year that I have plenty for this season’s mince pies too. So, seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness and all that, let’s get tucked up and cosy for Jesus’ birthday. Can’t wait.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Everything you write about England makes it sound like a magical fairyland. “Sceptered Isle”—so cool!

      I take it “Tyrannical Ma” is your mother? That’s quite a name. Did she rule the mountain with a brambled fist?

      Your Christmas plans sound great. That mincemeat pie sounds quite succulent.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I pinched the moniker Tyrannical Ma from Our Mutual Friend. She was the female parent of the delicious Bella Wilfer, one of the two heroines of my favourite Dickens novel, but it is a very apt name for my mother. She ruled the roost as did her two older sisters and my maternal grandmother of whom my father said “she was four foot ten of pure vitriol”. Her eldest sister, my Aunty Doreen was extremely domineering, so much so that I don’t actually remember hearing uncle Frank speak. I do not know what feminists are talking about when they whine about being oppressed by men because it has been the experience in my own family that the women took charge of everything and the men were only there to hand over their wages at the end of the week. Tyrannical Ma used to give my father pocket money and if she was in a good mood he was allowed to go to his favoured pub on a Friday evening for TWO pints, no more. He was not allowed out until nine o’clock and the pub closed at half ten.

    England, indeed Britain is no fairyland I am afraid. So much has changed since I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. There is still much that is good of course but as in the US a certain vocal minority are intent in destroying all that is traditional and decent and undermining long accepted societal norms. Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending speaks of a lost pastorale and he wrote that over a century ago now. Goodness knows how he would feel if he returned to England in its present turmoil. My favourite composer by the way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good Lord! I don’t think I could handle the women in your family. Your poor dad—so little time at his pub! Did any of that female orneriness descend down to you, Alys?

      Shouldn’t it be the exact opposite: the women under the firm, guiding hands of their husbands? Oh, well.

      Yes, I fear England, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand—not to mention South Africa—all the great spots in the Anglosphere—are now greatly reduced in their appeal. I used to think Australia was the fun- and liberty-loving America Jr., full of brawny dudes with boomerangs, conquering the outback. Now they’re suffering under a tyrannical government Orwellian in its aims and scope.

      I, too, enjoy Vaugh Williams. I often wonder what many figures from the past would think about the world today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dunno what happened then, was just writing a reply when everything went bonkers and I lost it all. Drat. Anyway, my sister and I were both quiet, shy children and dad was always my ‘go to’ parent. Ma was a terror for a lot of years although she mellowed as she got older but she and dad were married for over fifty years. When she died in 2006 he was lost without her and he followed her less than three years later. I am glad neither of my patents are alive to see the mess that our so called leaders have made of this nation, they would be uttetly bewildered. They were lifelong Labour voters but would be disgusted at the current state of both major parties in the UK.

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is for Port but I wanted you to see it too.

        Portly – this is the song that Alys’ dad used to sing to her and it holds a very special place in her heart. This is MY favorite version of the song. I don’t know if anyone mentioned that Alys is from Wales.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Age does mellow, doesn’t it? My mom was a bit high-strung for years, but she has mellowed _substantially_ as she’s gotten older. I know I’m much more mellow today than I was even a year ago. Of course, I credit anxiety medication with that to a great extent: it’s worked wonders. Now I just stress out the way normal people do, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I As for being ornery as you put it I have had my moments Tyler but I have never supported feminism and I like men,enjoy their company and appreciate what they do. I have never been one who enjoyed sitting gossiping with a load of women. It would be my idea of hell.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. The astronomical calendar of seasons we use now wasn’t always so, back in the Middle Ages the seasons and the Church calendar followed the seasons we saw, and so summer went essentially through to Harvest. A friend of mine, The Clerk of Oxford wrote once about an Old English poem called “Menologium” which was found bound in a copy of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. I quoted part of it, which seems germane:

    “A king should defend a kingdom. Cities are seen from afar,
    the skilful work of giants, which are on this earth,
    wondrous work of wall-stones. The wind in the sky is swiftest,
    thunder is loudest in season. Great are the powers of Christ.
    Fate is the most powerful thing, winter is coldest,
    spring frostiest – it is the longest cold –
    summer sun-brightest – the sun is hottest –
    harvest most glory-blessed; it brings to men
    the year’s fruits, which God sends them.
    Truth is most treacherous, treasure is dearest,
    gold to every man, and an old man is most wise,
    made wise with years gone by, he who has experienced much.
    Sorrow is wondrously clinging. Clouds glide on.”

    More can be found at my article, here

    Times and Seasons

    And the Clerk’s article is linked there.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Tyler, you could run a competition for the most ridiculous made up non word word. Starters for ten anybody? I once heard someone use ‘alphabeticise’ by some twit who thought he was a business executive when in reality he was a badly educated ignoramus. Another of my pet language peeves is the use of nouns as verbs as in ‘let’s ‘diary’ that’.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Audre, I’m waiting for you to come to the defense of _Star Wars_ in the comment thread for today’s post. It seems our friends across the pond either don’t care for it, and have never seen it (and don’t care to ever do so).

        I don’t know your mind on the topic, but with your childlike love of whimsy and fantasy, surely YOU like _Star Wars_—no?


      • (frowny face …) I’m so sorry, Port. It was ok (read, ‘seeing it once was sufficient’). The cafe scene with all the creatures was probably the best. None of the characters (to me – in my opinion) evoked anything more than a cursory interest. One minor difference – when Star Wars was released and it had been viewed by tons of people, some were of the opinion, “All the girls love Billy D.” It was true then, lol, and true now. But even he was enough to come back for a second look or to watch any of the movies that came after.

        I know I’ve disappointed you at a very foundational level and I am so very sorry. Sigh. What can I say? I’m there for you and with you in the horror genre, science fiction, fantasy … just not Star Wars. Mea culpa.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahahaha, I would not say you have disappointed me “at a very foundational level”—or really at all! Different strokes for different folks, as they say. Billy Dee Williams was certainly a smooth operator as Lando Calrissian.

        I’m sure someone reading this blog still holds some affection for the original SW trilogy.


      • There has to be because it was HUGELY popular in its original release. And the sequel/prequel/whateverquels after the original were popular as well.

        Phew! Thanks for letting me off the hook. I was worried.

        Liked by 1 person

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