This is my favorite kind of fall day, and I had no idea that the weather would be like this in Washington. That’s one thing I like about moving to a new place every couple of years — every season, every climate, every two-lane road, every street corner holds a new discovery. Each and every new day you learn something new about your new home, so you never really take your area for granted.
Every time I head to town and the clouds are gone from the west part of the sky, I am amazed and enthralled by the Olympics Mountains. When I’m heading out with J, I’ll interrupt her or myself to exclaim over the beauty of the snow-covered mountains, as she smiles indugently at me. She’s used to it, having grown up on the Puget Sound her entire life, so seeing Mt Rainier at sunrise as we take the ferry to Seattle is nothing exciting to her. In fact, I didn’t know we could see Mt Rainier from town until I was out with her and I noticed it off on the horizon. To me, it’s majestic gorgeousness.
But today was the most perfect fall weather. There was a tiny nip in the air, enough to let us know that summer has really ended and winter is coming soon, but still warm enough to not need a jacket. People have lit their wood fireplaces, enhancing the sense of impending autumn with the aroma of woodsmoke.
And it was gorgeously sunny. The kind of day where you can’t believe the sky is so blue and the clouds are so white and fluffy. The sunlight just sort of slanted through the trees that are changing colors, adding a rose tint to the world.
It’s the kind of day to be happy you’re alive, because even though the world is getting ready for its hibernation through the winter, you can still see the beauty in its preparations. I wasn’t sure when we first moved here and noticed all the evergreen trees whether we would still experience the fall foliage, but my fruit trees have already turned a gorgeous shade of crimson. The contrast with the still-green cedar trees all around us is just lovely.
These kind of days are for some reason imprinted on my mind. I notice them so much more for the way it brings me back to my childhood in northern Virginia, on a lazy Saturday afternoon when our trees, all three sugar maples in a small yard, were turning to shades of vermilion, gold, and burnt sienna. I can remember raking leaves with my sister, and then jumping in the piles, inhaling the lovely scent of dried leaves. I can remember playing soccer in the cul-de-sac with the girl who lived down the street on just such a day, getting too warm because of the exercise and stripping off my jacket. I can remember riding on our bikes down the Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg with my friend in college on a day like this, and laughing for the sheer joy of being alive and free.
The other time period imprinted on my mind in that same way is Christmas of my freshman year in college. There is so much than can bring back the memories of that year — the hint of a fir candle, the twinkle of icicle lights, “Tubthumping” (or any other song on that CD) by Chumbawumba.
I seem to be transplanted back into my tiny room, with my roommate’s furniture on one wall and mine on the other. We lit our room mostly that season with white Christmas lights strewn across the walls. I almost always had my bayberry candles lit, making the room smell like an evergreen forest. And Chumbawumba was always on the stereo. It was so warm in my room, but with a slight chill because my roommate always left her window open. But I can still see that room, in its Christmas light glow against the black of the night sky, feel the warmth and the chill simultaneously on my skin, and inhale the scent of bayberries from my candle. It’s a memory so laden with not just the recollection of an activity or occurrence, but also involving all of my sensory organs. It’s amazing, really, how I recall that so vividly, and I’m not even sure why I do.
But even though my freshman year was not a very happy experience, it’s a memory I will always cherish because it reminds me of how good it is to be here on this earth, no matter what season it happens to be or where I happen to be living.