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Chuck Brooks: Falling hard for autumn

As I'm writing this, the clock is ticking down on the baseball season. As you're reading this, we're in October and autumn is in full force. The Twins landed a spot in post-season play, but my Brewers will have to wait until next year. Of course, if they should win their four remaining games and the Colorado Rockies lose their three remaining games, they'd be in as the second wild card team as well. I am not, however, holding my breath for such a miracle.

I was recently talking with a friend about this month of colored leaves and chillier days, and I asked her what her theory was as to why so many people are in love with this third season of the year. After all, once winter comes, we may be fine with it for a while, but by January, most people I know are ready for spring to arrive. Once spring is here, people are chomping on the bit for warm temperatures and long days of daylight and more comfortable attire. Who doesn't love summer? Why is it then, however, so many people seem to have an unending love affair with fall? We see less daylight, jackets become the order of the day, trees and flowers lose their vibrant beauty, and by Nov 1, the view to the outside world is grey and lifeless. So, then, why do we love this time of year?

One thought my friend shared with me as to why she thought people loved it was because it is the prelude to the holiday season. It's an entertaining thought because as we grow from child to adult, we know the holidays can be stressful and exhausting. Yet, I agree with her. I know my favorite three months are about to happen — October, November and December. As I've aged, these three months have worked their way into my psyche, and I thoroughly love them, regardless of the negatives that come along with them. In retirement, they're even better.

So why do I believe fall is a crowd favorite? I am not sure I can articulate it well enough to sell my point, however, I'll do my best. October takes me back to my childhood. It's not that I loved October when I was young. I don't think I thought in terms about loving any month. I enjoyed Halloween, certainly, but we didn't celebrate that holiday for all 31 days of October. I think I tend to romanticize this season more than any of the other three. My perspective might be through rose-colored glasses. I have fond memories of this time of year from when I was younger. I'm almost certain it's why I connect so with autumn, and perhaps, unknowingly, it's the same for others.

When I was in the very early grades as a child, I remember doing an art project that has never left me. We were to bring to school leaves of color that had fallen to the ground. I recall being told by the nuns we weren't supposed to pull them from the trees but rather allow them to fall to earth and then bring them along. I can't specifically list every tool we used, but I know we were to roll a crayon back and forth over some type of paper that covered our leaves. The product that action produced was images of our leaves. If you had three or four leaves, then we basically recreated their image as a collage on a sheet of this special paper we were given. Again, the specifics evade me, but the pleasure of the experience still lingers, and I know it's one reason I connect with this time of year.

Then there's the memory of raking the leaves and jumping into them. The smell of the leaves permeated the air, and when I smell that same aroma now, it whisks me back to those playful days. I also remember being just out of high school and working at the grocery store (I've told you I waited three-plus years before college). My best friend, who also worked there, and I took our day off once in October and traveled to the tourist attraction, The House On The Rock. It's in southern Wisconsin. I remember the fun we had that day, partially because it was fall and this venue was located in a wooded area. Walking on crunchy leaves, the smell of trees and burning wood in the air, and the fact it was an absolutely perfect day for weather combined to make for one of those sensory memories a person never forgets. At least I haven't.

I also loved Homecoming, which was always in October as I was growing up. And with Homecoming came so many fond memories, and I believe all of this plays a role each year in making this season, if nothing else, a subliminal love we instantly recall. That's my dissertation on autumn. Get out there and soak it all in, cuz you know what's coming next.

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