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Looking for signs of fall

August 4, 2012

By Emily Jones
Deluded Diva

Has the heat fried my brain, or do I see signs of fall popping up everywhere?

I always feel like shooting off fireworks to celebrate new beginnings when the calendar rolls over to August. A brand new school year is being launched this week, and I mysteriously felt the urge to buy a loose-leaf notebook.

During my monthly exploration at Wally-world (Wal-Mart), I was thrilled to see the first signs of impending fall. The kiddies were wandering around selecting their pads and pens and arguing with their mothers about which jeans to buy. It reminded me of my elementary school days when picking out my loose leaf notebook was a highlight of the year. And I would get into an argument with my mother who made me wear those indestructible Saddle Oxfords instead of the cute patent leather Mary Janes.

That was my first feeble attempt to make a fashion statement, and I wish I had listened to my mother. If I had stuck to the Saddle Oxfords, I could still walk upright like a fully evolved human being instead of hobbling around on stiletto-maimed feet.

I spent an extra 30 minutes wandering around the store and savoring my first sighting of plastic pumpkins and fall foliage which had mysteriously shown up overnight. In the cool interior of the store, I could shut my eyes and feel the beat of the MSU fight song as the team takes the field for the first football game, less than a month away. Nevermind that it will still be 100 degrees in the shade and we’ll be wilted before the opening kickoff.

Sweltering temperatures have driven us all indoors and the flowers, so beautiful at the beginning of the season, look like they have been baked in the oven and beaten with a blanket.  It’s just too hot to get out there and try to resuscitate them.

Suddenly I’ve begun noticing the cacophony of cicadas (which my grandmother called Katydids) and crickets which offer daily twilight concerts this time of the year, pulsing from soft to loud and then back to soft. But, like the sounds or not, they’re still bugs of summer, and bugs bug me something awful.

It should be obvious by now that I’m not a big fan of summer.  It’s as though I’ve been holding my breath for the past three months, looking for all kinds of excuses to stay inside. Being an “unnatural beauty,” the summer plays havoc with my make-up; and it’s impossible to look fresh as a daisy when the humidity is 115 percent.

Oliver Wendell Holmes got a little nasty describing the earliest signs of fall when he stated, “Foliage is losing its freshness, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.” Poor Oliver had no idea his comment would be labeled sexist a century later!

Maybe I’m looking for signs of fall that aren’t really here yet. But there’s an excitement in the air that comes from anticipation of sports and relief from the summer slows. I can’t wait for the mellow, messy, leaf-kicking respite between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.
It seems to me that Mother Nature is at her very finest during the time in between the hot dry summer and the cold dead winter. It’s a golden time and with each day crossed off the calendar I look forward to autumn making it’s full return to replenish the soul.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement.  She welcomes comments at

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