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Waiting for that first cool day of fall

POSTED: September 19, 2010 12:30 a.m.

In the next few weeks there will be a morning that is my favorite every year.

It is that morning when, without much notice, there is a cool crispness in the air. If you're cold-natured, you might bristle a bit and reach back in the house and grab a sweater or light jacket.

I like it when that morning arrives and I have missed the weather forecast and it comes as a very pleasant surprise.

My friend Paul Ossmann at Channel 11 has all kinds of new gadgetry to rate the weather. They now have a scale from 0 to 11 to rate the day. An 11 is a perfect day and I don't know how often we get there. The first cool morning of fall may not be an 11 on Paul's scale, but it is on mine.

When that first hint of autumnal crispness arrives on a September morning, it is one of God's greatest creations. I love to watch how it all comes together. The deer who regularly visit my backyard have now developed a fall coat that is almost gray. This summer, their coats were a beautiful shade of golden brown. The weather hasn't changed that much, but they were made with an internal clock that says now is the time to get ready for fall and winter.

The leaves on the trees are still green, but not that vivid green of spring and early summer. It is a fading green that will soon give way to gold, yellow and brown. There are a few early leaves that have already reached my lawn and that's one of those signs that fall is just around the corner.

While there is something in the fall air that sometimes aggravates my nose and makes me sneeze, I welcome it.

I'm not crazy about raking or blowing leaves, but I'll do it. I sometimes wish that when no one was watching, I could roll in a big pile of leaves like I did as a child. We use to play hide and seek and we would cover ourselves with leaves. We would also make forts out of piles of leaves. Our forts were never invaded by the bad guys, whoever they were.

I'm afraid that if I rolled in the leaves today, the next morning I would have to find an ointment or salve to take away the lingering pain.

Just like the coats of the deer, something inside of me has been conditioned and readied for the approaching season. I am waiting with the same amount of anxiousness that I had as a child. But unlike waiting for Santa to arrive, fall arrives on its own schedule. There is a day on the calendar, Sept. 22, marked as the first day of fall. The real start is on that first morning of coolness.

Then, it will flirt with us for a few weeks, with warm weather one day and cool the next, before it settles in for good.

My sweater is hanging in the closet and I am ready.

Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column appears every week in Sunday Life.



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