October 23rd, 2016

Sweatshirt and Sneaker Weather

By G. E. Shuman
For all my usual complaining about spending the past 62 winters here in the frozen north, at this time of year I usually have to play the hypocrite. Truthfully, and I don’t think I even realize this myself until the summer begins to turn to fall, I love this time of year, I do complain at least a little, or maybe a little more than a little, about the cold weather during winter in Vermont. I do not like my snow blower, although I am grateful for it. I also don’t like paying for heat for our old home, and gripe about that just a bit, too.

Still, with all of that said, as I said, I do love fall here in the Green Mountain State. That could be because, at this time of year, the mountains are no longer so green, although I have nothing against green leaves. Okay, so I can’t explain it by the trees. I do love fall, at least partially because I no longer have sweat pouring off my face and every other body part whenever I do anything out of doors. (I don’t think anyone says ‘out of doors’ anymore, but you get what I mean.) It really is great to ride through the hills of this northern state, with the windows down and the AC off. My wife and I recently took such a trip to Burlington, about 30 miles from our home, via old Route 2. Check it on a map if you’re “from away.” That means you’re not “from here.” It was a beautiful ride on a wonderfully winding wooded road. (I know, too many w’s.) We took the trip in my favorite car, my 1970 vintage Volkswagen Beetle, which doesn’t even HAVE air conditioning. (It doesn’t have much of a heater, either, and therefore will be tucked in for a long winter’s nap long before snow flies.)

I have often thought of, and have occasionally written of this time of year as ‘sweatshirt and sneaker’ weather. Any of you who have spent some brisk Saturday mornings at a child’s or grandchild’s soccer games know just what I mean. Nothing beats a big lawn chair and a travel mug of hot coffee at those games. It’s also a great time of year for bike riding and maybe even a bundled-up fall picnic or two. The air is fresh, the sun is bright, and you don’t need suntan lotion or mosquito repellent anymore.

And then there is Halloween. Wow! I have always loved Halloween! That holiday, if Halloween is a holiday, has been special to me ever since I was one of the trick-or-treaters. Rustling leaves blown by a cool fall breeze, creaking branches, spooky decorations, and big jack-o-lanterns under a bigger harvest moon still excite this old guy. Of course, when I was young, fake blood and gory rubber blades had nothing to do with that spooky night. Our frightening fun was found in stories of witches, goblins, ghosts, and ghouls. (I know, too many g’s.) We didn’t go in for the blood and guts of today’s costumes, but loved to dress up as werewolves, Count Dracula, or the Frankenstein monster. As recently as last weekend my wife had to drag me out of the Halloween aisles of a big box store. That will probably happen at least a few more times before the end of the month arrives. If you were wondering, no, I don’t actually dress up for Halloween anymore. (That would be silly, and we wouldn’t want that.) I do dress up the house, though, and have amassed a good collection of decorations for the season, which, each November, I box up and bag up and keep in our dusty and dark, cobweb-laden cellar until the next Halloween. (They like it down there.)

When my kids were younger I loved to sit on the front porch swing on Halloween evening, with the lights off, and surrounded only by the flickering light of their jack-o-lanterns. I think the kids liked doing that too, but not as much as old Dad did. This year I’m the one with no tricks, but with a special treat. This time I get to share Halloween with my brand new granddaughter, Nahla. At less than three months old she probably won’t do much pumpkin carving this season, although I did buy her one that’s just her size. Maybe she’ll at least sit on the porch with me a few evenings, and let me tell her about Halloween. There’s just nothing like the sooty-sweet aroma of a candle-lit carved pumpkin, on a spooky, late October night. Nahla needs to know about that.

Yes, indeed. I do love this wonderful sweatshirt and sneaker weather! I hope you do, too.

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