Although poets have often extolled the beauty of leaves changing in autumn, I’m in no rush for fall.  (Millions of school children agree with me). ABC’s Eyewitness News reports that autumn officially starts on Monday, September 22nd. But doesn’t it seem like fall weather crept up on us early this year?  Summer 2014 in New York City has been the coldest since 2004.  For the first time in 10 years, there hasn’t been a heat wave (three or more consecutive days of 90 degrees or above). Yes, it’s great to use the air conditioner less and save money on our electric bills. But what about the loss of gloriously warm beach days?  Chilling at the beach shouldn’t mean huddling under towels, wearing a sweatshirt, or having your lips turn blue after a frigid dip in the ocean. Guess we’ll have to wait until next summer for balmy beach days, unless you can afford a winter getaway to a tropical island.

     Do you find it depressing to wake up each day knowing that another minute of sunlight will be lost?  I do. Gradually and inevitably, our days will grow shorter and darker. One day in the not too distant future, daylight savings will be over and instead of enjoying an 8 PM sunset, people will be scurrying home from work in the dark at 5 PM.  No wonder there’s an actual disease—Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD!) for depression caused by the loss of sunlight.

     Sadly, the temperature has already dropped below 60 degrees on some days and has been below normal most days this August and September.  Now I’m forced to rearrange my closets (Ugh!), shift all the sundresses and white jeans to the back and move the black jeans, corduroys and jackets to the front. No more skipping out the door in my sandals and showing off the perfect pedicure.  Now socks have to be laundered, but at least it won’t matter if the polish is chipped on my big toe.  Alas, it’s time to unearth my shoes and boots, happily abandoned for the past three months.

     With temperatures prematurely cold and shifting dramatically through the day, how do you decide what to wear? It’s no longer enough to slip on a dress, grab a sweater (for air conditioning) and dash out the door. Now mental machinations must be performed before dressing every day.  If it’s 61 degrees at 9 AM, and the temperature shoots up to 73 degrees at noon, it might still plunge into the low 60s at 6 PM. No matter how you dress, being comfortable for the entire day is almost impossible—especially if you’re a 50-something like me and get cold easily. Obviously, the best solution is choosing the right fabric and taking an extra layer.                
      I can hardly believe that I’m even THINKING about layers and it’s only September! If temperatures continue to drop at this rate, New York will probably feel like Alaska by December. I know plenty of people—besides the poets—enjoy autumn.  Hiking and biking in crisp weather or driving to mountain resorts are delightful pastimes for all nature lovers and outdoorsy types.  Although I’d like to postpone fall (and cancel winter), I must admit that I too enjoy watching the leaves change to red and gold.  Once the leaves turn brown and brittle, scattered in crunching, windblown heaps on the sidewalk, I’m secretly (well, not anymore) delighted to live in New York City.  What a relief it is NOT to have a backyard, where I’d need to rake up all those piles of dead leaves, or else buy one of those ear splitting leaf-blowing contraptions.  Better to pay ridiculously high taxes in the Big Apple, enjoy the communal backyard of Central Park, and have municipal workers gather up the seasonal tree droppings.

     Of course, fall means Halloween. I have fond memories of pumpkin picking with Henry and my twins when they were little.  Many harvest moons ago, dressing my kids in Halloween costumes was a lot of fun, and nowadays welcoming trick-or-treaters—from the adorable to the outlandish—is still fun. Less enjoyable was buying all the candy, arguing with my kids over how many treats could be consumed in a single sitting, (and then trying to resist eating candy myself).  After going to the gym and nibbling scrawny salads every day, Halloween is a dieter’s nightmare (and a bonanza of business for dentists).

     Speaking of businesses, most people would agree that work slows down during the summer.  The frenzied, cut-throat competition to earn a living, grab a cab, make dinner reservations or find a parking spot evolves into a far more civilized way of life as hordes of affluent New Yorkers decamp to their second homes in the Hamptons or Connecticut as the temperature climbs.  For those of us who remain behind, the much-emptier city means that restaurants are glad to see us, finding a cab or parking on the street is no longer an exercise in futility (or aggression) the way it is during the fall and winter. Of course, some people, like my husband Henry, thrive on competition and the energy of New York after Labor Day.  For those type A’s, New York seems like a ghost town, depressing and lifeless during the summer.

     Not for me.  Why rush into the breakneck speed and pressure that is the very essence of autumn in New York City?  The fashion industry may have to show (and sell) spring designs in the fall, but right now magazines are telling us to buy gray—fall’s “hot, new color.” Now come on, how many of us are truly excited about wearing gray? As far as I can see,

hurrying into fall means welcoming dreary winter days which are just around the corner.  Unless you’re a devoted skier or a kid hoping school will close, you’re not hoping for snow. Who looks forward to slipping on icy streets or sloshing through sooty city slush?  I used to love to the adrenaline surge that went with rushing from one goal (or season) to the next.  But now that I’m older I realize that sprinting through the seasons at top speed only means I might arrive at the final finish line ahead of schedule. Frankly, I’d prefer a summer stroll.

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