It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing, floating down to earth, and dotting the sidewalks and grass with their colors. The mornings are cool and the afternoons are pleasantly warm. There’s a hint of bright cold winter chill in the air, but its nicely balanced by the remnants of summer heat. Soon the air will smell of dry maple leaves, apples, pumpkins and spices. At least, that’s what it will be like across the country where I’m from.
When I was younger I hated fall. It signaled the end of the freedom of summer and the start of the long and tedious school year. The minute the leaves fell off the trees I would pray for snow. Winter was my favorite season because it meant skiing, snow days and, of course, Christmas. I didn’t have a care about anything else. Fall was simply delaying that wonderful time.
Since 2005, the arrival of fall has meant so much more. I can still smell the fresh grass of a new soccer season, leaves gently cascading down from the trees along the creek side onto the fields. It’s also the season I was either introduced to or began to love groups like Radiohead, Elliott Smith, and Jack’s Mannequin. These are some of my quintessential albums for fall and links to certain songs that take me back (updated and expanded periodically):
- Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (2014)
- Arcade Fire – Reflektor (2013)
- Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind (2012)
- Ben Folds Five – The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold (2006) Messner
- Elliott Smith – Either/Or (2006)
- Elliott Smith – XO (2006)
- Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials (2011)
- Jack’s Mannequin – Everything In Transit (2007)
- Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger (2008)
- Jack’s Mannequin – People And Things (2011)
- The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck (2012)
- The Mountain Goats – Tallahassee (2013)
- Muse – The Resistance (2009)
- Muse – The 2nd Law (2012)
- Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (2013)
- Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium (2013)
- Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)
- Raine Maida – The Hunters Lullaby (2007)
- Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Social Network (2010)
A lot of wonderful things have happened during the fall. I fell in love for the first time in November of 2006, not long after an amazingly destructive surprise snowstorm. The next year was my first semester of college; I’ve said before it’s probably my favorite period from my life (so far) and it was an absolutely incredible adventure (also the end of that first love, but there’s nothing to be done about that). The next few years after that meant a return to the normalcy of college, seeing old friends, meeting new ones, intramural sports (and in 2009, a championship), and having an all around awesome time.
Going to school half an hour from New England, I often took many a trip out into the Green Mountains of Vermont to soak in the annual glorious transformation of the foliage. A day in New Hampshire on Columbus Day weekend quickly became a tradition. During my senior year of college, the fridge in my apartment was continuously stocked with apple cider from September to January and I never failed to grab a gallon every time I made a trip to Price Chopper. Fall is pretty much the my favorite season, edging out spring by a fair margin.
Except, as I said before, that’s how it is where I’m from. Fall in central Northern California is a little different. The nights are cold, while the days are hot like summer. Leaves have begun falling off of the sycamore trees around my apartment, but they don’t change color, except to turn dry and brown. The trees that do change color don’t do so until around late October (at least that’s what happened last year.) There’s limited apple cider, few pumpkins, no foliage (or actual native trees, really), and until November the days are still relatively hot. The only thing that’s even close to being like home is the position of the sun in the sky, and even that’s off by 10°. Hell, on some days the combination of haze and warmth feels more like spring than fall. California is weird. On days like today I really miss fall back home, but until I return on some future autumn, I’ll let my music take me back there while I enjoy the prospect of another snow-less winter out here.