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Well, folks, fall is upon us.

Every year at this time, a cozy crispness infuses the cooling air with the scent of fallen leaves and wood- burning fires. Our ears prick at the sound of blown whistles and distant marching bands. The jets under our tongues fire in anticipation of cinnamon-sugar-crusted apple cider doughnuts and simmering crockpots of savory chili. We dig into the depths of our dressers to resuscitate our softest sweaters, relieved to put the thick, sticky, artificially-refrigerated days of a mosquito-bitten, frizzy-haired summer behind us.

Finally!

But as we nibble warm pumpkin bread and peer out at the technicolor foliage, we are blissfully unaware of being perched on the treacherous slippery slope of seasonal change.

The long, hot, seemingly endless summer lulled us along over a sunny, green plateau. Spoiled by the abundances of the season, we forgot that the Earth would tilt, the sun would wander off, and we would begin our inevitable descent. Autumn is nature’s decoy. Like a tumbling yellow leaf luring a blue-eyed kitten toward a sheer cliff, fall baits us into the deep, dark crevasse of winter, where we must wait for spring to throw us a line to climb back to the light.

Personally, I refuse to be fooled by autumn’s trickery. I know that vegetation isn’t the only thing that will shrivel and die this season. I may love the changing leaves, but I will hate watching my skin fade to a sickly pale, dry up and flake off. No amount of pricey face cream will plump my crepe-y wrinkles. It would take a vat of Vaseline to keep my body from sloughing. Each night, when I remove my sweater and bra to get ready for bed, I’ll unleash a blizzard of skin fragments.

No sooner will the September equinox wave goodbye to the sun as she journeys south of the Equator, than my nasal cavities will invite excess mucus to occupy my sinuses. I’ll fish the neglected tube of Chapstick out of the bottom of my purse, pick off the lint and sand and slather it over my chapped lips, but it won’t delay the onset of a scabby, repellant cold sore. Over the summer, my hair resisted my constant attempts to straighten its natural kinks, soaking itself in the warm, curling humidity. But during fall, it will finally surrender. Once it has dried to a malleable crisp, its lifeless, dull, dehydrated strands will be ready for harvesting and baling.

After a short period of respite from summer’s annoying bugs, I’ll notice a long trail of ants, marching crumbs in lockstep along our kitchen counter, through our dining room and entering a crevice in the floorboards to their bustling colony somewhere between the studs. Mice will show up in our house seeking shelter from the oncoming cold, but only when we have company over so as to maximize our embarrassment. Occasionally, I will be seen jumping and shouting like a lunatic, smacking the bathroom walls with a rolled-up magazine in a futile attempt to squash terrifyingly fast-moving Scutigera coleoptrata — the damp-loving house centipede.

When winter comes, cloaking the northern hemisphere in darkness, I’ll begin my annual battle with ubiquitous salt stains, static and sooty snow chunks under my fenders. Spring will arrive just as I decide I can’t take it anymore, mercifully melting all the snow. I’ll exhale a breath of relief, only to notice four months worth of hidden dog doo piles in our yard.

Now that I’ve warned you of fall’s hidden pitfalls, I must confess.

Despite it all, I love the changing seasons. The satisfying twitch of tired muscles after raking leaves. Warm ovens baking delicious things. Watching football while cocooned in blankets on the couch. The silence of snow’s glittering sound absorbency. Staring in wonder at the crystalline intricacy of frost on the windowpane. Tender buds heralding fresh hope.

Purity, beauty, bounty, shelter, rest, renewal, tradition, family, life, love, seasons.

Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com. Email: meatandpotatoesoflife@gmail.com

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