Quiet Desperation

Autumn has list full of ways to be wistful


Autumn. A six-letter word that summons hundreds, and all of them are apples and the color orange.

My friend Thoreau said, “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

I hope that didn’t make you Thoreau up.

Autumn is a perfect time to reminisce about the year and about life. It comes just ahead of the mania of Christmas, which now enters the room much too early.

Those of us who are graying might look at the leaves on our lawns and streets and remember a childhood moment when our lives were politicians-free and politics-free.

But now.

“Press 1, if you plan to vote in the upcoming election.”

“Press 2, if you plan to vote for a Republican.”

“Press 3, if you plan to vote for a Democrat.”

“Press 4, if you would like me to jump in a lake with a sack over my head.”

Here in Colorado, the four seasons kind of run together, like picnic food on a paper plate. Back East, things are different. The seasons all change when they are supposed to, and rarely get confused.

If you have been here long enough, you might remember the Oct. 15, 1984, Monday Night Football game played at Mile High Stadium. In a blizzard.

Nora Ephron said, “Don’t you love the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

My nearest grocery store has had ceramic pumpkins out front for over a month, and now, long before Halloween, there are actual pumpkins. The minute Halloween has come and gone, I’ll start to see — and hear — the pep rally for Dec. 25.

I could do without the pep rally, but its inevitability is inevitable, isn’t it?

They might be hawking holiday gifts on the home shopping channels right now.

October was always my favorite month of the year, because I was born in October, and October meant gifts. Now it seems like there are two Octobers (or more) every year. I was 30 just a minute ago.

Quiz: Who yelled at falling leaves because it meant winter was next?

“Stay up there. Stop falling. Stop falling, I say.” Answer at the bottom.

Raking leaves is an annual chore. Some of my neighbors leave it (as it were) to the wind, and I wind up raking them instead.

There are other exterior jobs to be done before yard maintenance goes into hibernation, and most of them I don’t mind.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Life starts all over when it gets crisp in the fall.”

It will be nice not to hear the air conditioner doing its best to keep up with our record-setting summer. It will be nice to wear clothes around the house again. Once the dog sitter arrived a day early. Say no more.

When I was a kid, this time of year meant I had a big decision to make. Who to be on Halloween. I was a hobo one year. Flash Gordon another time. Hopalong Cassidy.

I knew I was too old for it when I was asked who I was, and I said, “Karma. Are you worried?”

Answer to the quiz: Lucy Van Pelt.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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