I’d like to say a couple nice words about autumn.
Autumn gets a bad rap. It signifies the end of summer. It is the end of lying around places. Lying on the beach. Lying in a park. Lying in the sun, being cooked alive by the sun. It’s the end of brainless summer blockbusters, making way for the brooding, introspective cinema of autumn. The general idea is, now that autumn is here, it’s time to get back to work, (as if work went somewhere for the summer) back to schedules and routines.
Perhaps this is just a leftover sentiment, from every back-to-school season that ruined our childhood. Still, everyone is grumpy because, school is back in session, we have to take work seriously again, there’s a laundry list of chores to be done around the house and maybe it’s so rainy outside it means outdoor fun-time is effectively canceled and won’t return until next summer.
But if you’re like me, thick blooded, stalky and basically worthless in hot weather, autumn is a time to rejoice. It’s a time to blossom and pick up where you left off last autumn. It’s time to finally put away the sunscreen. Time to accessorize! Wear sensible pants! Even the straw-and-scorched-earth that used to be your lawn somehow comes back to life.
It’s a miracle! It’s a beautiful time to be alive!
Me in autumn
Maybe all we need is a change in perspective.
You seem skeptical—that’s fair. I’m not here to trash talk the summer lovers. It’s not like there’s a competition between the seasons. It’s not as if kids, born in October are better than anybody else. What I’m saying is, sometimes all it takes is a paradigm shift to see that autumn is a season of possibilities.
For example, I love riding my bike, but I’m not a fan of riding my bike in the rain. I don’t like riding wet. I spent far too many years fretting about staying dry. When the rainy season came around I’d waste money buying expensive rain gear and still end up getting wet. Thing about rain gear: it probably doesn’t keep you from getting wet, and if it does, it works so well you end up arriving soaked in sweat. Take your pick.
In heavy rain, I’d either walk or take transit to work instead of riding my bike. It wouldn’t take long until I was stir-crazy, jumping at the door for a ride. By the time the rain cleared, I’d take that first eager sprint only to find my legs were hopelessly out of shape.
Eventually I just gave up: I let the rain win.
When you look this good, it's hard to be humble
While I still can’t say I’m stoked to slog through a soggy commute, at least I’m not trying to stay dry. And that’s made all the difference. Sure, I’ll begin layering up when it’s too cold for a t-shirt and shorts. I’m not dumb. Also, I’ll put fenders on my bike because—bike lane etiquette. I’m not a monster either.
Bike lane etiquette. Learn about it.
Let the rain win.
It’s incredible how that one little tweak—giving into the understanding that if you bike through a Portland autumn, you bike wet—opens the door to a whole new world. A new, exciting point of view.
Protip: arriving breathless and soaked like a drowned-rat in the autumn, people naturally assume you got caught in the bad weather. Showing up like that in the summer, people wonder if you'd been chased down by wolverines.
Sometimes all it takes is a shift in perspective to change the entire meaning of a season. And I know, it’s not easy. I’m still tinkering with my distaste for summer. While I’m working on that, maybe this list of delightful autumn activities may change your mind about enjoying all this season has to offer.
Autumn: here’s what’s going on (in Portland)
• Your favorite bike ride, but now, awesomeized by autumn.
• Sauvie Island Haunted Maze
• OMSI’s Harvest Festival already happened, but worth mentioning.
• Portland Nursery Apple Tasting
• Visit some random high school’s homecoming football game. They’re nuts!
• Uh, Trick-or-treating. Hello, Halloween!
• Touring the Hood River Fruit Loop
If you’re still not convinced and plan on spending the next eight months indoors. That’s cool too. Incidentally, that’s my second favorite autumn activity.
Protip: make sure you’ve got that hibernation station dialed in. Dust off your old, faithful crockpot, pick up some bourbon and fluff your nest into shape. Getting your workspace in order is the best step you can take to ensure you’ve got this autumn on lock.
Maybe then, you’ll surprise yourself and get so much work done, you can take next summer off.
By Mr. Autumn (Nate Barber)