I can't wait for fall. For the crisp nights, cozy meals, and frosted windshields. I wish I could say I've always loved fall, but in actuality, I used to view fall as simply cooler weather (good), going back to school (blah), and gearing up for the main event: Christmas. But within the past few years, fall has become my favorite season. One year, in an attempt to keep myself from breaking out the Christmas music in September, a friend and I wrote a blitz of fall-themed parodies of Christmas carols and church songs. Another friend invited me to her All Saints Day pumpkin parties (yes, we're theology nerds even when it comes to food-themed parties). Starbucks' pumpkin spice lattes happened. And I discovered the exquisite joy and versatility of cooking fall/winter squash and roasting vegetables.
This year, I'm especially ready for fall. My heart skips a beat every time I see predicted high temps below 85. I love the sound of the marching band practicing during lunch. I've been drooling over pumpkin recipes that keep appearing on my Facebook feed and favorite food blogs. And a couple weeks ago the smell of roasting garlic nearly drove me to tears (not exaggerating; yes, that was a particularly tough week with some emotion that seriously needed to be acknowledged).
But more than the lower temps and nutmeg-infused baking, I'm looking forward to the start of a new season in my life. This summer was hard. Sure, there were bright spots like taking part in a childhood friend's wedding and vacationing in New Mexico. But I spent the first half of the summer watching (and walking alongside) my boss and friend as his health rapidly deteriorated, while fully expecting him to not live through the summer. And I spent the second half of the summer mourning his death and dealing not only with my own emotional upheaval, but also with all the practical upheaval at the office. Someone had to cancel his five thousand email subscriptions, break the news to people who called the office asking for him, go through hundreds of his files, and help empty his office while not knowing who would be moving into it or when.
So I'm ready to close the chapter of summer 2012. Sure, there will still be grief for a long time, and nothing will ever fill the Charles-shaped void in my heart and life. And there are still days when I need to cry over something as emotionally neutral as roasting garlic. But the grief is becoming less intense with each passing week. This week I get to help move a new boss and friend into the office next to mine. A new semester is underway. And soon I will be burning my favorite Pumpkin Carnival candle and cooking my way through recipe lists like these.