We moved south because of winter.
That’s really what did it. Our family needed a significant change for a whole host of reasons and after two incredibly cold and snowy winters resulting in more snow days than I cared to count, we were ready for warmer winters. We knew that meant hot summers, but we reasoned that summers in the midwest could be unbearably hot for days on end, too.
When we moved to Houston in July, in the middle of heat that never seemed to stop, we just kept telling ourselves that it would all be worth it once winter hit. While our friends and family up north complained about icy roads and windshields and snowdrifts and cold that took their breath away, we would be sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and warmth of a southeast Texas winter.
And with only a few exceptions, our dreams of warm winters seemed to be true. There were times we would wake up to temperatures in the 30s and I would have to put on gloves and sometimes a hat before heading out on a neighborhood run, but we enjoyed six years of winters that included shorts, basketball-playing outside, camping trips to local state parks, comfortable dips in the hot tub, and generally lovely weather. We really did love it and the deep freeze that hit all of Texas in the winter of 2021 was such a shock to our system that I temporarily repented of ever thinking I could move back to the Midwest.
But I missed Fall. Oh, how I missed Fall.
Texans really do try to capture the Fall spirit. They put out Halloween decorations and decorate their front porches and interiors with hay bales, fall leaves, and scarecrows. They celebrate the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and have hayrides through pumpkin patches. We had friends tell us that there really were some great apple orchards to go apple picking and the grocery stores were full of caramel apples and pumpkins galore.
But we knew better. We knew it was all a charade. We knew that it was a hopeless attempt to capture the magic that Texans were watching on their social media feeds, movies, and television shows presented by their northern friends, family members, and the wide world of entertainment.
Jen Hatmaker may have put it best when she posted:
Listen, in the south, we all agree to the Fall Sham. It’s part of living here. It is in our contracts. Our Targets are all stocked with sweaters we could not possibly wear without perishing until January, but we pretend this is not real. Look! It’s fall! Because the calendar! I’m wearing a hat and my air conditioning is set to 68 degrees and runs constantly! Let us have this, America. It is kind of a s*** show down here right now. Please allow us this one charade.Jen Hatmaker, Facebook post on September 29
And she was so right.
Because there is something truly magnificent about real Fall. Since the beginning of September, we have experienced the slow transition to winter, enjoying warm days and shorts-wearing and then throwing on our hoodies for night walks with just a slight chill. We have woken up to cool mornings at the perfect temperature for running and then thrown our windows open to let in the warm breeze. Last weekend my daughter and I hiked through a local state park, the 60-degree temps perfect for a two-mile hike through woods while we enjoyed the smell of fall and the crunch of leaves under our feet.
And while this year has been unusual in that it has been warmer longer so it is taking the leaves longer than usual to turn, yesterday we drove down to one of our favorite state parks and witnessed glorious reds and oranges that we haven’t seen in years. Instead of complaining, we embraced the 50-degree temperature and drizzling rain that accompanied our walk through the state park’s Halloween hike along one of the park roads.
Yes, we are dreading that first massive dump of leaves that will need to be picked up and disposed of in the woods behind our house. No, we didn’t love a gloomy, rainy day in late October that made us want to sit inside underneath blankets all day instead of running the erands that needed to be taken care of before heading back to another week of work. And as much as I am looking forward to that first snow, I’m praying that it holds off for a little longer so we can enjoy a couple more weekends of outdoor bonfires and hikes in the woods.
But I’m glad to have Fall back. I probably missed it more than I was willing to admit. I guess the old adage, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” applies to more than just human beings.
I’ll just try to avoid complaining too much about being cold when the time comes.