Many hearts skipped a beat when Sept. 22 winked at them from its place on the calendar. “First Day of Fall,” it said. Bring out the fuzzy socks, pumpkin goodies and colorful leaves that decorate the frosted grass! As magical as Autumn can be, there are people who, instead of leaping for joy into a freshly raked pile of leaves, want to roll up in a thick blanket and hibernate until Spring. As much as I love Fall, I don’t blame them. After all, who wants to scrape their frosted car every morning, face the stress of school starting up again and have the sunset at six thirty at night? Fall can have some pretty big downers, especially as the season stretches on. However, to those of you who feel Fall is more of a pain than a pleasant piece of pumpkin pie, today I offer a solution. I suggest a cup of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows while you read this article.
As a Utah native, I think it’s fair to say that Utah’s beauty comes from its mountains. Salt Lake City is filled with canyons and more hikes than many of us may know. All of the trees in the canyons are bursting with color and dance in the wind. Hiking is the best possible way to enjoy the beauty of Autumn. Temperatures are dropping, yes, and that may prevent people from venturing out to the cold mountains, but outdoor adventures are not limited to hikes alone. Autumn is the time when pumpkin patches, city fairs, haunted corn mazes and downtown hot chocolate walks are at their peak. Being outside in the fresh air has a positive effect on individuals of all ages. In a study done by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, they discovered that “people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area…showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with [a] key factor in depression.” Not only does being outside improve your mental state, it is a great way to exercise and enjoy the natural beauty that Autumn brings.
Colorful leaves and fresh air aside, what about those of us who are homebound? With the cold weather, freezing outside doesn’t seem like the favorable option no matter how beautiful it may be. Some of us like the hot temperatures. If this is your case, never fear. Fall can still be warm and cozy for you. Due to the colder weather outside, heaters are turned on in the homes and sweaters, fuzzy blankets and thickly knitted hats are brought out of the closets. Warm clothing not only provides warmth but fun solutions to the cold. For example, has anyone ever covered a heater with a blanket and crawled inside for a nap? Personally, I would highly recommend it. Warm temperatures help improve memory and show benefits for your heart and lungs, according to recent studies by the American Physiological Society. The weather might be getting colder outside, but it is getting warmer and better inside. Joy in the Fall not only comes from the crisp air outside but can come from the warmth inside of the home.
Besides the warm weather departing and short shorts being packed away, another thing disappears during the colder season, and that is money. Oh, yes. The sacred green slip of fate that determines whether one will eat or starve that week. How does this happen? Well, when Fall arrives on the calendar, other days seem to pop to our attention like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. As much as we wish they were, those stuffed turkeys, bowls of candy, holiday dresses, and presents under the tree are not free. The more we celebrate, the more we spend. Before we know it, money is running from our wallets like dripping eggnog.
But, here’s the thing, presents and gifts to others are not always bought with cash. We’ve all heard that classic line, “money doesn’t buy happiness,” but have you considered that overstated statement could be right? Maybe instead of a new frying pan, what your mother truly needs for the holidays is a promise to come home for Christmas or Sunday dinner. Possibly your little sister needs some freshly popped popcorn and an evening singing Frozen with you over and over again as you struggle to stay sane. What about a heartfelt letter to your dad thanking him for his help in paying for your education, or a visit to your grandparents’ house to hear their youthful stories? According to the dictionary, the definition of a “gift” is “a thing given willingly to someone without payment,” or “a natural ability or talent.” Nowhere did it state that a gift was an expensive present that sucks the money out of one’s pocket. Time and love are the best gifts one can give to another. During the colder holiday season, no one could ask for more.
Whether Fall is a favorite season or dreaded period of the year, Autumn has something to offer everyone. Crispy leaves, cozy fires and gingerbread man cookie cutters seem to unite families and friends this time of the year more than during any other season. Some people have said that Fall got its name due to the leaves falling from trees and the temperatures falling. As much as that can be true, I believe there can be another explanation. Perhaps Fall got its name due to the hearts of individuals falling in love with the season. No matter the explanation, Autumn has us all falling for its beauty and lovable perks. And as each leaf falls, our love and appreciation fall deeper for this marvelous and magical time of year.