Autumn is without a doubt my favorite part of the year. As the heat of Summer gives way to nature’s cooling breeze, pop culture transforms into a darkly splendid amalgam of pumpkin spice, horror and tranquility. The fever-induced outrages of a polarized culture shift into more congenial rivalries focused on the athleticism of college kids, aiming for that one shot at NFL glory. The overwrought cinematic blockbuster offerings of Hollywood morph into the tried and tested horror masterpieces of years past. The sweltering torridness of long, lazy days gives in to lengthening and chilling nights that run rampant with hope, reflection and serenity.
Pumpkin and other Fall-inspired flavors begin to command attention over the lighter fare of Summer. Crisp salads and grilled skewers become hearty chili and fulfilling stews. Pale and lemon-washed beers fall away with the rise of darker, more complex brews that tantalize drained taste buds. Gone are the citrus pastries that puzzle my palate with ostentatious saccharinity, as the days of zestful spices and bittersweet produce return in all of their elegant nobility. And though it may be hip today to complain of pumpkin spice overload, as well as expressing annoyance at the supposed white women who demand this oppressive burden, I adore all things pumpkin-flavored, from pies and candy to ale and coffee.
There is no better time than Fall for a sports fan. As the air becomes more frigid, Major League Baseball heats up with intense playoff races, each game now imprinted with the significance of an entire season. Football begins each Autumn with life or death games on every level, from high school to the NFL, bringing with it tailgating, marching bands and a comradery that is rarely matched in most sports. The NBA and the NHL return with fast-paced and thrilling games, dominating the airwaves with slam dunks and hat tricks.
After a Summer of theatrical offerings aimed at the lowest common denominator, the studios release smaller, more personal films. Films that don’t quite fit in with the Oscar bait contributions of Winter or the multitude of spectacle and flash in the Summer. Trips to the theater are replaced with nights of staying in with friends, watching the classic horror films of yesterday. Films from maestros such as John Carpenter, Dario Argento and George A. Romero replace the weary films of Michael Bay, Gore Verbinski and Roland Emmerich. The Jason Bournes are replaced by Freddy Kruegers and the Fast and the Furious make way for the House of Frankenstein.
Autumn is a time of rebirth. While Spring is the obvious season of renewal, Fall brings with it new hopes and refreshment. Harvest is coming and it is time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, with one last reprieve before the harsh winds of Winter arrive. There is nothing that I love more in this life than grabbing a rich, malty beer on a chilly night, surrounded by friends and loved ones. Whether it’s watching modern gladiators battling on the football field, or watching an atmospheric and horrific work of art with an impeccable score, these times spent with the most important people in my life are the most important times of my life.
And then there is Halloween… which truly makes Fall the most wonderful time of the year.
-Rockin’ Robbie Billups