I’ve spent my whole life in places where the seasons change: Northwest Indiana, New York City, and now Boston. Of course I complain about the extremes of hot and cold weather, but if I’m being honest with myself, I admit to liking the change of seasons.
Spring is my favorite, but it never lasts long enough anywhere I’ve lived. Fall, however, has staying power, and for some reason it’s the season that most pushes my favorite childhood nostalgia buttons.
I think it has a lot to do with memories of going back to school as a grade schooler. My brother Jeff and I were fortunate to go to a good little neighborhood public grade school in Hammond, Indiana, staffed largely by old-fashioned teachers who really cared about the kids and drilled us on the basics. I don’t have to engage in a lot of revisionist history to say that it created some good memories.
Those memories connect to holidays and historical dates associated with the fall: Columbus Day, Halloween, and finally Thanksgiving, the bridge to winter. Of course, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving were drenched in the feel-good historical fictions contained in our easy reading history books. Halloween was a calorically magical and innocent observance, replete with neighborhood trick-or-treating where the only fears about knocking on strangers’ doors were over ghosts and goblins. And some of us imagined ourselves waiting with Linus for the Great Pumpkin to appear:
Fall is a wonderful time of year in Boston. The weather is cool and comfortable, and the leaves turn colors in spectacular ways. The many historical sites from the American Revolution remind me of my childhood introduction to history, which quickly became one of my favorite subjects and remains so to this day. And not too far away is Salem, home to the real-life witch trials and some modern day tourist traps!
Today, of course, the seasons also correlate with what I do for a living. We have a fall semester and a spring semester, and I still use a personal, academic year calendar book where I write in my class schedule and various meetings by hand. Classes started this past week, and the weather has hit a classic fall-type cool patch. It’s a comforting combination for me.