Today is NOT the first day of fall as I have been thinking incorrectly all day. Officially it is tomorrow, September 23, 2011. That’s because it must coincide with the autumnal equinox when there will be equal amounts of day and night – about twelve hours each, depending on where you live.

So I suppose what we can all celebrate today as the last day of summer!

You may or may not be happy about this. For me, the heat and humidity have prevented me from enjoying a lot of activities outdoors. The horses have been lathered in sweat, my old dog has finally learned that being in the basement is better than almost anywhere else, the cat wants in the dog lot because it is in the shade of the forest, and electric bills resemble the mortgage with the air conditioner constantly running. I’m glad to see summer closing down for the season.

In fact, last weekend ushered in a temperature change. It’s been cooler, cloudier, and rainy. But I like the muted light, the soft glow that has already replaced harsh rays. I like crispy leaves in the driveway and nothing makes me happier than driving through a mass of them on the country road I live on and watching them erupt in a flurry with the crinkling sound surrounding me.

I love pumpkins, corn stalks, gourds, Halloween, festivals, cool afternoons, fall colors, bonfires, candy apples, caramel corn, chilly mornings with a cup of coffee on the front porch.

I love ghost stories, ghouls, costumes, Indian corn, Dracula reruns, bowls of trick-or-treat candy, hot cider, and new episodes of Bones, Castle, and Dancing with the Stars!

My birthday is in September as is my anniversary – twenty-seven years today, thank you very much!

Stews, soups, crock pot roasts, smoked pork barbecue, corn bread, long slow meals that taste like home, chicken bogs, clam chowder and other hot foods taste better when you aren’t sweating a puddle beneath you.

I prefer fall fashion too. Give me sweaters, boots, scarves, turtle necks, a pretty jacket, thick socks, tweed, leather, gloves and a nice hoodie. Who looks fashionable in summer clothes? I know there is the woman who always looks so great in the ad for Ralph Lauren – the one in white with just a little jewelry. Try it in real time where the humidity has your hair either frizzing or falling limp, perspiration soaking through the delicate fabric and the appearance of severe wrinkles in the lovely linen after only a few minutes. Yikes! Give me fall fashion!

I love the newness of fall too, as odd as it sounds. Maybe it’s the years of shopping for new school clothes and supplies, the reference to a ‘new year beginning’, shopping for new insurance plans, gearing up for the holidays, thinking about house decor, landscaping, fall displays of the aforementioned pumpkins, corn stalks, and Indian corn.

The deer shed their velvet and spar for their ladies, birds sometimes arrive in large flocks stripping every berry they can find before moving on, (I suppose in North Carolina we are on the fly way south.) There is excitement in the animal world as squirrels and chipmunks scurry to gather the last of the nuts and seeds, which sometimes end up in odd places in my car if I don’t keep the garage door closed. The snakes disappear underground! That alone is reason enough to like fall!

I like to read by a fire in the fireplace with a chenille throw over my legs and feet, bake things with yeast – like cinnamon rolls – that need warmth for rising, and dry hydrangeas for flower arrangements to last until next spring.

But most of all, I love the colors of the mountains as the leaves change and set the hills ablaze around me. So beautiful! Every day offers a new palette until November.

So cheers and salute to the last day of summer and what is soon to be the first day of fall!

Last year's fall color just beginning in Bland, Virginia

Last year’s fall color just beginning in Bland, Virginia

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