It’s September! It must be fall!
I know this because you can’t raise an eyebrow right now without hearing about football games or school starting or the latest fall fashions. September’s on the calendar, in the newscasts, planted firmly in the zeitgeist.
Thinking about it — this new, exciting season — I get a little shiver. Isn’t that a nip in the air I just felt? No, it’s just the air-conditioning going full throttle.
You see September is a highly confusing month if you live where I do, in the middle of Texas. September promises so much, but it delivers hot air.
We’ve lived through June, July and August. But it’s September that’s always the coup de grâce. We expected better! We had been misled — by the calendar, the national media, the endless hype of autumn. Year after year, we learn the same bitter lesson that no, we aren’t all in it together.
You – in the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast, the Midwest – are basking in the gently slanted sunlight and breathing in the crisp, cool air; we are blinded by the merciless sun and shake-baking in the inferno. You are getting out your cashmere and longer sleeves and darker colors; we are staring disgustedly at our limp, sweat-soaked shorts and T-shirts (which, frankly, should have been incinerated in July), wondering if we can bear to wear them again.
But, it’s always been like this. I should have learned. But, oh, no.
Growing up in west Texas, I was the overly bookish sort of kid who got her ideas about life and seasons at the library. I’d bring home piles of books that assured me that autumns were glorious, teeming with brisk days and cold nights that turned the trees fiery red and orange and amber. You could rake leaves and jump in them, you could shiver by the fireplace till it warmed you.
Sometimes, I looked up and out the window. It was always a big mistake. I was usually eyeball-to-eyeball with whatever spindly tree had been planted close to our house. The tree was always staked to the ground so it wouldn’t blow away in the fierce wind.
And you know the rumor about leaves turning color? Well, ha. That’s all I have to say. Ha. The only trees that could make it in West Texas were mesquites — gnarled and low-lying and tenacious, which is kind of similar to West Texans themselves.
Mesquites weren’t beautiful, but they were ours. I was 40 before I ever heard the term trash tree applied to mesquites. It shocked me so much, I almost took to my bed.
But, you know, mesquites just don’t deliver when it came to foliage. I had to move to central Texas to find leaves that turned lovely colors.
Not that they turn in September. Nope. We have to wait a couple of months. We do have September in Texas, but around here, we call it November.