Taking the fall for autumn

So I apologize to that guy who started going on about how great fall weather is, as I happened to walk by. It wasn’t personal, and I’m really sorry for spitting on your shoes. At some shoeshine stands you have to pay extra for that.

Look, I don’t like really hot weather. I want warm, not hot. I’m talking sitting on a beach sipping mai tai warm. I don’t even know what a mai tai is. The Polynesian term for Pepsi? Whatever, the point is that it’s warm enough to sit on the beach, but not so hot that your feet blister in the sand.

Here in Indiana it gets feet blister hot, but at least it never snows during summer. There’s never been a blizzard advisory issued between June and August. I’ve never had to dig myself out of a snowdrift during a month that didn’t have an R in it. Okay, a few times in May, but that’s my point – sometimes, in spring and fall, it snows. That just doesn’t happen during summer. So far.

So it’s not autumn that I hate, it’s winter, and winter-like weather during autumn. Autumn is like when the cherry blossoms bloom in Washington, D.C.: It looks nice, but at any moment you might sight a politician vacuuming money out of an innocent bystander’s pocket. Maybe not the perfect metaphor, but I suppose it’s better than saying autumn is like a cannibal who feeds you lots of candy because he likes sweet meat.

There’s a reason why they call it Fall. I’m talking autumn, you understand – I don’t know any cannibal named Fall. Anyway, you can be minding your own business, enjoying the glorious colors and the crisp air (which is weathertalk for “cold”), thinking how great it is that you were able to turn your air conditioner off, and then – bam!

All of a sudden every leaf in the tree lets loose at once, and you dig yourself out half an hour later only to discover three inches of snow fell and now you’ve got to rake wet leaves.

Then you have to turn on your furnace. And then – here’s the real irony – you have to turn on a humidifier, because otherwise if you forget to pick up your feet in the morning you’re suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree. And by the way, you’ve got to hang those Christmas lights in the driving sleet, fella.

Here in Indiana we spend six months trying to get the heat and humidity out of our homes, and the next six months trying to get it right back in. That’s just wrong, and possibly a plot by Big Oil. It doesn’t snow in Saudi Arabia, what do they care?

If only there was some way to store each season, maybe in big insulated tanks. January comes, you crack open a tank of summer until you stop shivering. Halfway through July you open up a container of winter, which is also a good place to keep your beer for NASCAR season. Got extra summer? Pipeline, straight to my house.

Listen, let’s be honest. Yes, the first part of autumn is beautiful, with unparalleled colors. Do you know what those colors signify? Death. Yup, everything out there is buttoning up, dying outside and retreating into various kinds of shells, because they know staying awake during winter is just ridiculous. Every animal would hibernate as soon as the first snow flake fell, if they could. Imagine a cow spinning a cocoon around itself.

Okay, stop imagining that – it’s disturbing.

Humans are the only beings on earth who deliberately leave their homes for anything other than food during cold weather. Loving winter is a mental disorder.

“Hey, let’s go skiing!”

Bam! That guy goes in an asylum.

“Let’s make a snowman!”

Pow! Right into a padded cell.

Don’t even get me started on ice fishing. The only ice we should be fishing is a cube for our cold drinks, around August or so.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why be such a downer, Mark?” Or possibly you’re thinking, “Is this almost over? I have to check out the new snowmobiles, then get my head examined.” Okay, I’ll admit, I don’t do too well with short days and cold temperatures – even without considering my heating bills.

When I was very young I actually would go out and play happily in the fall, and even in the winter. In fact, I played so happily in winter that I forgot basic things, like making sure I still had feeling in my extremities. The technical term is frostbite. Frostbite is bad. It’s like a new federal tax on your skin, taking away usefulness and leaving a numb feeling in its wake.

Once a person is frostbitten, they’re never quite the same again, and in my case the big secret is that it doesn’t take sub-freezing weather to remind me of that. The temperature gets down low enough – say, to autumn like weather – and suddenly my hands, toes, cheeks and ears are as stiff and painful as a Joe Biden joke.

So I get touchy. You’d be touchy too, if you had to walk around in sixty degree weather wearing gloves and earmuffs. I love Indiana, but only for half the year, and for the other half I’m still hoping for a six figure book contract and a winter home on the Gulf Coast.

Barring that, science is making great progress toward extra-large cocoons.

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