Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn in Austin

photo 5 (36)The bee isn’t small; the flower is just that big. Well, it is Texas…

Today is the autumnal equinox, which marks the official first day of fall. Says the calendar, anyway. It certainly doesn’t feel that way in Austin. As excited as I always am for this season - the changing leaves, the fall colors, the crisp cool air, the soup on the stove, the pumpkin everything, oh my! - I know I can’t expect the same here as what I’d experienced in Chicago.

And I’m right to be cautious, because while the colors have also changed here, it looks like anything but fall. No hues of gold, auburn, and rust to dot nature’s palette in these parts. Instead, what I see is stunning, bold, vivacious, technicolor life after a long, hot summer that fried much of my yard. After nearly two weeks of torrential downpours and thunderstorms that flooded the creeks and low lying areas, all the grass that died and the plants that hung on by a fiber are back in full, glorious force.

It’s gorgeous, I have to say, but I’d be lying if I don’t also say that I’m going to miss the fall that I’ve known and loved for the past 20 years. There’s something to be said about snuggling on the couch with My Guy under a blanket with a mug of hot toddy on a crisp October evening. Or dressing in boots and cozy layers, accessorizing with scarves and knit hats. Fall is so my season.


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But this is what fall looks and feels like in Austin: Still green. Still warm. Still summer. I procured some ingredients to make pumpkin muffins today, but really, who am I kidding? It would feel like those celebrities trucking in fake snow to their homes so their children in southern California would experience a white Christmas. Yeah, just like that.

Yet, part of me wonders if I learned to love fall because, well, what else could I do, living in Chicago? We learn to make do. We learn to love orange and amber, we learn to embrace wool (which I never did, by the way), we learn to sip cider so we could also warm our always-cold hands, and we learn to distract ourselves with fall’s best to avoid thinking about the inevitable, impenetrable grey and frigid cold of winter.

In the winter, we also learn to love the snow. I did, anyway.

We all deal. Whether it’s what we tell ourselves or whether it genuinely becomes a part of us, we learn to find ways to love where we are planted. I can’t imagine being happy any other way.

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If I ignore the fact that fall looks entirely different in other (colder) parts of the country, it’s kind of nice to drive up to my house to see everything so alive and vibrant again. It’s my candy-colored happy. The sun has let up, and we’re seeing cooler temperatures, rather than the blistering heat of the past months. We can actually enjoy being outside in the middle of the day again. In fact, the fall is looking to be a pretty fantastic summer.


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In our summer dresses, the girls and I ventured to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center this past Sunday with My Guy, and I was taken aback by all the beauty that surrounded us that day. They did an astounding job in showcasing the indigenous plants and flowers, and I am ashamed to admit that, before moving here, I expected to hate the flora and fauna out here. Leaves that don’t change in the fall, soil that barely holds any water, rain that rarely falls - what could I possibly expect from this part of the country?

Apparently, quite a bit.

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Have I mentioned how much I love majestic old trees? Here, you could swing from them in myriad ways.

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Or climb them.


And every day, I’m learning to love it out here a little more. While I’m still getting used to the fact that I could see a family of five deer grazing in someone’s lawn, three large buzzards landing on the street a couple of hundred yards from me, and a snake crossing my path on the sidewalk (eek!) all during my one morning run, I realize that this, too, is part of the area’s charm.

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This was at the Wildflower Center, but I’ve seen this Beware sign more times than I can remember now. Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not quite #TexasForever yet. I vacillate back and forth everyday between expressing disbelief that we moved out here and gratitude that we did. But the fact of the matter is, I’m here. I can’t change everything that I don’t love about this place, but I can eventually learn to love what I don’t. Or at least peacefully live with it. If this girl from the tropics could enjoy her run on a snowy 30-degree winter afternoon, anything’s possible right?

So. There may not be hot toddies under the blanket by the fire anytime soon for us, but ice-cold cocktails by the pool in October?  Surely I could get used to that.