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Leaves Azure and Gold–Awww Phooey! Gezundheit. I Hate the Fall!

September 21, 2013


I live in a New England state so regarded for its dramatic leaf changes that urbanites come from far and wide to witness it. We also have a lot of dumb spigots milking syrup from lots of dumb trees. If you pull over on any roadside in my state for any reason–flat tire, cigarette dropped in your lap, body dump, anything–you can bet your rusted leaf-loving ass someone’s going to sell you something made of maple syrup. When that happens, you’re on your own. Heck, I’ve just warned you so it’s your fault if you fall for it. Maple candles maybe. Maple bread or maple wine and you’re stretching it for me. But if you buy that maple case for your new iphone, well, buddy that’s on you. You fell for it. My advice: don’t fall for fall.

Fall is a season of moribundity-of nearing death–all dressed up by consumer culture to resemble some kind of party. Apple cider, pumpkin spiced lattes and Oktoberfest beer. It’s all a big dumb sham and it’s killing me.

Wait. There’s more. I used to love being a student. I loved it so much I arranged it so I could be a student professionally, for the rest of my working life. Fall is the season of going back to school. Kids go crazy for it. There’s backpacks to buy and pencils with furry googly eyed creatures where erasers used to be and jeans and lots of stuff and guess what? It’s all new for the fall! All new, every fall. Hmph. How convenient.

And how did all that stuff decide to replenish itself for this season in particular? Because fall is the Madmen of the seasons. The others don’t need promotional strategems. They sell themselves. Shit! It’s snowing. Welcome to winter. Hey the snow’s melting; we’re all going to live! Spring back into action. My god it’s beautiful out here. Summer needs no middleman. But fall?

Fall used to go around with a crew of toughs extorting money from local businesses. It speaks in slang with an accent and walks with a limp. It has a club foot, a hair lip, and a cocked eye. Fall threatened my family at gunpoint in 1977. There were witnesses. Some have gone missing.

But this isn’t just personal. Fall hates you too.

After commodity culture’s makeover, the hemispheric gang green that sets in when fall shows up is now something for us all to celebrate and get inspired by. Those bright colors aren’t imminent signs of botanical bucket-kicking. It just means we need to go bobbing for some apples. But wait. That was in the 1950s when everything wasn’t attached to some form of a purchase.

That was a time when, if you were an adult and wanted to go bike riding, you would just go. There was no special costume for you to go out and buy and then wear while you rode a bike–an outfit that tells the world, No, I’m not a landscaper late for work riding a bike in casual clothes like an alcoholic tramp, a kid, or a European, but an upstanding adult American citizen who properly rides a bike dressed as a melted crayon box in skin-tight spandex and who spent a nice wad on these threads, too.

That was back when you could just go hiking and all you needed was a will to do it and pepper spray in case of bears or Leaf Watchers from the city. If you wanted to walk with a stick, you would just pick one up along the way. That was part of the joy of it. These days, you need walking sticks and they’ll cost you. Only a respectable person carries name brand walking sticks. If not, others might mistake you for a heroin addict vagabonding in the woods, rousting the squirrels for a fix and threatening them with that stick you got–eek!–right off the ground! Not even Europeans do that anymore, do they? No, certainly not. They have respectable walking sticks now too. The good kind. The kind you buy.

And that’s the certificate of authenticity, right? That you paid for something. There’s an invisible receipt that your autumnal cycling outfit conveys to others, just like your walking sticks. It says I have a right to enjoy this natural splendor now. I’ve paid for it. There’s pumpkin beer in the fridge back home and my belly’s hot with squash flavored tea. My porch is covered with deformed phallic vegetables I’m not sure are even edible and I’m standing here with my walking stick and a cool camera I bought by the side of the road made entirely out of maple–I’m sure it works, even though the man who sold it to me was unshaven, like some drug-addicted vagabonding tramp who goes cycling in jeans–and now I’m going to enjoy all this dying–I mean fall–happening luxuriously about me. Fall is ready for its close-up Mr. Demille.

Fall smiles wide over that one. Look, you can see the caps and the ruby-rimmed grill shimmer in the twilight.

  1. pi314chron permalink

    Ahhh, I do love the way you wrangle words, Michael, my lad. You also saved me a hunk of change today. I used to toy with the delusion that a New England autumn was still an unspoiled peep into Nature’s grandeur and occupied myself endlessly with planning vacations tramping through the woods with compass and camera, sans wife and kids, of course. After reading this post, however, I now see that the ripoff jerks who have a mania for hawking their cheap wares at uber-inflated prices have despoiled your neck of the woods, too. Guess I’ll just go down to the local Mall of Warts where the prices are falling faster than thongs in a panty raid. Or leaves in the downdraft of Michael Moore waxing eloquent on his own greatness. On second thought, screw the Mall of Warts, Screw fall, too! I think I’ll see if there’s a panty raid in the works anywhere around these parts.


  2. Brilliant. And I hate those bloody walking poles. I spent seven months in Nepal with people who walked up and down proper mountains every day, and they seemed to manage perfectly well with actual sticks from actual trees. Grrr.

  3. Brilliant, seems I’m in a time warp, my bike long rusted, my feet used for a walking, and my evenings spent on a windowsill staring at the sky. No receipts here.. but there is life, somewhere…

  4. Michael:

    Okay, I see your point, but what about “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness?”

    Keats wouldn’t sell out, would he?


  5. My father always said, “What’s the big deal? They’re dead trees!” He was the first person I knew that hated fall. You are the second.

  6. Dear Michael,

    This is just lovely.. Hahahaha I absolutely love this! I never get bored reading your blog.. It feels like the both of us are having a conversation.. You’re so close and yet you’re not even here!


    • Thank you, Yara. I’m glad you’re enjoying the postings. The blogosphere is a strange sort of community. I know what you mean about the weird mechanics of feeling digitally close to folks that could be half a physical world away.

  7. I actually really like fall but I hate that winter follows after. I dislike heat, so summer is out as a favorite. I live in Minnesota so winter is a bear. Spring is my favorite because it’s such a relief!

    • I’m from Cleveland and only know Minnesota through stories. Many of my favorites, though, are about Minnesota winters of yore–when city trucks would come around and slice down the towering snow banks that would accumulate over the sidewalks, or the blankets that people would cover their car engines with. Now there’s a season you can sink your poetry into.

      • Now people plug their cars in to keep their engines warm! But yes, Minnesota is a place of poetry for sure…I love it here…just keep my roads clear and my furnace working!

  8. Brieuse Bernhard Piers-Gûdmönd permalink

    I love your Fall, because where I live it’s Spring. Yippee!

  9. I think I love Fall for the fact that everything is dying. The leaves change colors and fall off the trees, so we get to gather up all their lovely crunchy corpses into huge piles to jump in. The bugs that bite me? Dying. The ones that make all the noise? Dying. The birds that wake me up in the morning? Well, they don’t die, but they leave. The sun stops shining so much. It stops being humid. I get to see everyone finally put on more clothes. It’s the end to the most annoying season of the year.

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