Fall is here! Well, not quite, but if this was a play then fall would be in full costume and makeup, standing in the wings and running through a few last-minute vocal exercises to get ready for its big entrance. School is back in session, temperatures are dropping, dry leaves are skittering across the pavement, and editors everywhere are dusting off the article they write each September about bear-proofing your garden, trying in vain to think of something new to add, then giving it a slightly different headline and calling it a day.
Pumpkin spice everything has been on sale for some time now, and I can’t help feeling that the whole pumpkin spice craze has gone too far. Remember a few years ago when food vendors at carnivals and exhibitions were outdoing themselves to see who could come up with the craziest deep-fried concoction, and dropping things into hot oil that had no right going near it? I think we’ve reached that stage with pumpkin spice. It was lovely when it was used in baking, and I could see it becoming something you might add to coffee, and pumpkin spice candles … okay, fine.
But now we have pumpkin spice throat lozenges, and butter spread, and dog treats, and car spray, because of course everyone wants their car to smell like a fresh-baked pumpkin pie. Only it won’t smell like that: it well smell like something sickly and horrible, as if someone left a pumpkin pie under one of the seats last year and then forgot about it, and once you’ve sprayed it in your car it will linger for a period of time that is roughly eternity, a silent reminder of a poor decision that you will regret forever. Put pumpkin spice back into pies, and coffee flavouring, and leave it there. Okay, you can keep the candles too. But that’s it. Tell your dog it’s getting regular Milk Bones and will just have to accept it.
Costco might still have Halloween candies and costumes in stock, but you’ll have to move fast if you want them, as they’ll have to make way soon for the Christmas decorations. Never fear if you’re too late, though, as Spirit of Halloween pop-up stores will be returning to the landscape shortly, with more copyright-infringement-skirting costumes than you can shake a stick at. Ever wonder why their costume that is in every way a duplicate of what Judy Garland wears as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz is called “Kansas Farm Girl Costume” instead? Because they don’t want to get sued, that’s why.
Gardens still look fine, although flowers have started their inevitable slide towards becoming potpourri, and gardeners are eyeing their green tomatoes anxiously, willing there to be just enough heat and sunlight still to come to turn them red, or at least reddish (and looking up green tomato recipes, just in case). It’s an opportunity to reflect on what did well in the garden this year and what didn’t, the pleasant surprises (the pansies held up well, all things considered!) and the disappointments (precisely three carrots grew out of an entire packet, so either something went wrong or the birds had a feast). It’s also a time to look at those already-skittering leaves and sigh, then cheer up when you remember that it’s good for your lawn to let the leaves lie there over the winter (and never mind disapproving looks from the neighbours).
Fall! Truly the most wonderful time of the year for people who love the still-warm days and cool nights, the changing colours, the crispness in the air, and the onset of the season of all things ghostly and mysterious. The cruel heat of summer is behind us, the equally cruel wrath of winter is yet to come, we can leave the snow shovel in the garage for a few more weeks but don’t have to worry about much more weeding. Pass me a cup of coffee, and you can hold the pumpkin spice flavouring, but a piece of homemade pumpkin pie? Now you’re talking my language.