The Shoulder Season


Chicago was sweltering yesterday. I kept thinking myself in January bundled up in sweaters and hats trying to keep warm as the north wind howled down the Chicago River. But still I sweated. In and out of the AC, my friend Nancy and I meandered trying to appreciate the warmth of summer but keep from frying in the sunshine. I was so excited to get on the air-conditioned commuter train only to realize that the AC couldn’t keep up with the relentless heat of hot bodies and the summer sun. I sweated all the way back to Michigan.

In Louisiana, I’d know this will be the state of things for awhile. It could be hot until Christmas and beyond. But, here in Michigan, relief is in sight. Boots and scarves are on the horizon with at least a crisp cool front or two possible in mere weeks.

I first fell in love with fall in Knoxville. The Smoky Mountains were a breath away, and the hills were ablaze with orange, red and yellow. Traffic snarls of southern heat warriors plunged the area into gridlock. But, ahhhh ….  the crisp fall air, apple pie and falling leaves stole my heart every time.

In Michigan, fall is a mixed bag. It’s beautiful, and I love the bite of the crisp, cool days. Hiking and camping are at its best as the bugs die down, and a campfire feels all the more cozy. A long run on a 55-degree day is perfection. But it’s also the signal that winter is coming. Oranges and browns give way to winter’s blacks and grays as the temperature falls. Fall is at once lovely in its own right and glorious in its comparison to what come next.

I received an Oktoberfest invite from one of my neighbors yesterday. Upcoming races don names like the Thru the Leaves Trail Run and The Great Pumpkin Race. The young woman at the fruit stand says apples will be in soon. And Labor Day – the end of summer up here – is fast approaching. The sweating will soon be over.


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