Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn takes the throne: Or, I wax poetic on my favorite season

Note: Unlike most Americans, I'm way more accustomed to using Celsius temperatures. Sorry if my conversions are off. 

One of the big differences between Shenzhen and the Northern United States (both New York and Chicago) is temperature. The Pearl River Delta is oppressively hot for most of the year. Humidity hangs in the air like an unwelcome houseguest, and the heat constantly crushes...over, and over, and over. Most days in Shenzhen were north of 30C (86F), and days hitting 34C (93F) were not uncommon. This is in tandem with crazy humidity and smog unknown to almost anywhere in the United States. Shenzhen is a giant oven.

Chicago and New York are already entering the autumn. When I landed at Kennedy Airport at 6:45am last Friday, the temperature was a brisk 10C (50F); it shall be a cool 15C (60F) for a high in Chicago when I land on Friday. It's quite a difference. During my jetlagged times, I went outside at 5:30am to enjoy the brisk, Northeastern night air.

Autumn is coming to knock Summer off the throne. I can't wait.

The fall has always been my favorite season. Perhaps, as a late summer birth, the season has always been inextricably linked to the start of a new year for me. The two times I've moved house, I've done so in September. Autumn feels renewing. Refreshing. After the summer's heat and push, the relaxed coolness of the fall makes me feel as if I can breathe again.

I love the coolness of the air, the crisp smell on the wind, the changing color of the leaves, the intensity of the grays and the muted color of the light. I love the endless American sunsets and how they become so sharp during the fall.

The fall has a resolute normalcy that sweeps me up. There's a social air of determination, of drive, of getting things done. It inspires me. I often do my best work during the fall.

The fall is romantic. I become disgustingly sentimental during November. I feel my feelings, perhaps, most strongly as the trees begin to shed their leaves. It's almost as if nature primes me to go on an emotional overload. It's a great cleansing mechanism.

I'm one of the few people who moved to Chicago for the weather, and autumn is definitely a selling point for the city. The air is delightfully nippy, the wind is just so, the light is neither depressing (like late winter) nor alarmingly joyful (like July). It's just an awesome season.

I'm a son of the North. I grew up in the Northern US, I live in the Northern US, I love the Northern US. I never understood why people chased the sun and sea, when the autumn and spring are so beautiful.

I've been fortunate enough to see a lot of the Northern Autumn: in Chicago, in Indiana, all over the New York area, the Catskills, and much of coastal New England. I've felt strong autumn winds in rural upstate New York, and I've smelled that unmistakable, firewood-like scent in both Hyde Park and in northwestern Connecticut. Boston in late fall - an experience Model UN in high school gave me several times - is incomparable. It's the best time to visit the city.

The fall keeps me tied to where I'm from. Wherever I live, the North American autumn's eventually going to pull me home. It keeps me waiting all year.

Fall has already started in Canada - a country which has taken a fall symbol as their mascot. In a few weeks time, we'll don our sweaters and our socks and push against the wind to our classes.

I can't wait.

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