We are now in the final days of Summer, and the opening days of Fall. That means it’s time to re-ignite a debate as old as human civilization in temperate climates: whether Summer or Fall is better.
What started as fights between serfs and minstrels has now migrated to Facebook and Starbucks. It divides nations, communities, and even homes. Yes, it pains me to say my own wife is an avid Fall-ist.
I’m a Summer man. My reasons are so basic that they barely need explaining. Explaining why Summer is better than Fall is like explaining why civilization is better than savagery–it’s so obvious that it almost defies easy explanation.
But I’ll do my best to put the primal into words. Next time you see someone giggling about their sweaters and their pile of leaf corpses, please respond with the following:
- Warmth is better than cold. I can’t believe I even have to say this. But Fall-ists would have you believe that wrapping yourself in layer after layer of itchy wool to stave off the cold is a positive. They crow about there being “a nip in the air!” As if the air biting you is a good thing.
Here’s what I like: stepping outside in the morning and realizing . . . it’s already warm! Realizing that you’ll be comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts. And—again, I can’t believe I have to say this—being warm all day instead of cold.
- Sunlight is better than darkness. Like many responsible adults, my goal is to wake up each morning at six. And like many less responsible adults, I struggle with this every morning. But in the summer, it’s easier. The morning sun is kissing my forehead, and when I throw off the covers the air is gentle and perfumed with summer bloom.
In fall, that slowly crumbles. Each morning is darker than the one before, and edged with a greater chill so that by the time November comes, the world outside my bed is a frozen wasteland.
And let’s not forget about evenings. Call me crazy, but I like it when I get back from work and there is still sun out. Unless you’re a vampire, leaving for work before sunrise and returning home after sunset–an increasingly common thing as Fall slinks along–is an existential kidney shot.
- Health is better than laziness. Partly because I wake up earlier in summer, and party because–again, I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE TO SAY THIS–warmth is better than cold, I exercise more in the summer. A morning jog in 80 degree sunshine along tree-dappled paths is a beautiful welcome to the day. Trudging along frosty sidewalks beneath bare trees in the near-dark is a beautiful excuse to stay in bed.
- Leaves are better than bare branches. While we’re on this subject, I’d like to say more about leaves. I like them. Especially when they’re on trees. I submit that twilight behind green is among the greatest sights in all of nature.
Yes, Fall-ists rave about leaves turning color. And that is indeed beautiful–for the day and a half before the leaves fall to their deaths. And after we’ve gathered the carcasses and thrown them away, what’s left? Branches. Brown, bare branches. A constant reminder of absence, of isolation. The tree-lined path, once bursting with green and life, is now a graveyard of skeletal bark fingers.
- Pumpkin spice is gross. Before the Pinterest mafia comes for me, let me make one thing clear: pumpkin spice can be good. Like in the pumpkin bread my wife makes each September. Or in that Starbucks latte (I guess). But here’s the thing–it’s only good in those narrow contexts. It’s how nature intended it.
So the grocery store’s annual pumpkin bonanza, with the pumpkin spice cereal and candy bars and oatmeal and dog food and probably salmon, isn’t just stomach-turning. It’s a crime against nature.
- Remember your childhood. I want you to do something for me. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remember your childhood summers.
Remember waking up with a contented sigh as golden light streamed through your window and a sky full of possibilities beckoned. Eating lunch in the grass with a favorite toy and, later, favorite book on your lap. Jumping in sprinklers in the afternoon and watching movies on your patio at twilight. Riding bikes and playing with your dog and cannonballing into your grandma’s swimming pool. Finally getting your driver’s license and cruising along a mountain road, window rolled down and hand drumming to your summer song.
And what was Fall? It was summer ending, school looming, and darkening days trapped at a desk doing long division.
And yes, I know that any adult with a full-time job works just as hard in Summer as any other season. But to you somber adults scowling over email in your halogen office, I respond with this quotation from Albus Dumbledore:
“Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
That’s right, Dumbledore agrees with me.
- Life is better than death. Once again, this point is so obvious that Fall-ists should be ashamed I even have to make it. Summer is a time of life–leaves on trees, flowers in gardens, birds on branches, squirrels on fences, fish in streams, dogs and children skipping through parks.
Fall is when all of that life shrivels away–either by preparing to hibernate through cold and darkness, or by literally freezing to death.
But sure, go ahead and drink your pumpkin lattes…
Photo by Samuel S.
I’m one of the weird Spring-ists, so I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I will argue about your “primal” desire for Summer: For most of human history (until food preservation was up to snuff and before our year-round fighting of wars) Summer was the worst. Before the concept of a middle class, most our our ancestors were farmers. Since the harvest happened in the Fall and all the feasting happened in Winter, the food stores would have been pretty empty by Summer. Summer was also war campaign season since no one wants to have open battles in the snow and mud. And let’s not forget that if you were male and big enough to hold a spear, you were a prime candidate for the army. No one cared if you had trained for it or not. So due to shorter supplies of food and an increase in combat, a lot more people died in Summer than in Fall. It’s only because of greenhouses, refrigeration, and industrialization that we get to enjoy Summer.