08 October 2012

find your fall rhythm

"Find your fall rhythm."

This is part of the Starbucks fall ad campaign, and the poster I saw this morning had a woman wearing a creamy, dreamy cardigan, haloed by golden autumnal sunshine, and smiling beatifically—presumably because she was thinking about a pumpkin spice latte.

Starbucks gives suggestions for your fall rhythm: leaping into leaf piles and screaming at the sidelines, but aren't those more high notes than rhythm?

Those are the things that make fall so enticing, so iconic, so memorable&dmash;but they can't be part of your everyday rhythm, the beat alternately pushing and pulling you along.

Leaping into a leaf pile every day would mean:
  • you'd need rake leaves every day, or
  • you'd need to closely monitor your neighbors for their raking habits—sneaking in to jump in their pile just when they look up to appreciate the color play between the red leaves still on the tree and the blue sky
  • you'd eventually reach a point when you see a pile of leaves and want to run screaming from it. Too much of a good thing.
  • Also, you may end up with leaves in your hair a lot. The wood sprite look, you know.
A fall rhythm is for finding a groove—not a rut but a beat for walking through your day, and you can't find a beat if you're randomly jumping into leaf piles.

It's about buckling down for work and feeling proud when the job is done and done well, an idea that must be in our DNA from generations of harvest time. To see the sheaves of wheat in a field at sunset: that is a fall rhythm, and with the first brisk morning, we are drawn to it.

And if that first time you see your breath again in the early morning doesn't make you think of wheat, it might make you think of school. You may have been out of school for years—longer than you were even in it—but come mid-September, you may feel a need to buy every college-ruled notebook you see at Target.

You may yearn to draw up a schedule for the day, one that beings with free reading time in your homeroom {No, seriously, why can't we begin every work day with that?}.

Perhaps you want to pick up a textbook, cover it with an old grocery bag, and then, finally, really get straight what the Stamp Act meant.

A fall rhythm is about order and closure.

But paradoxically: it's also about disorder and beginning.

The leaves fall chaotically, and we make plans for winter projects, many of them involving a facet of self-improvement.

I will cook one new recipe a week.

I will swim twice a week.

I will read Dickens and Austen.

That sort of self-improvement thing: as the world becomes a stripped down version of itself, we want to build ourselves up, perhaps yearning to fill out all the gaps nature is leaving behind in color, warmth, and growth.

So you see, fall's rhythm is confused and always changing temp; by its very nature—its very weather—fall keeps us guessing.

As much as it makes us long for stability, it's, of course, a transition season, and you never feel that more than in the early morning as you're trying to figure out what to wear.

It may be 39 degrees out at the moment, but you know that by mid-day, it'll be in the upper 60s or even 70s. How to prepare for this? How to dress?

This is why, I believe, the fleece vest was invented. It is the epitome of the transition clothing and helps keep one part of you warm while letting another part breathe easy. You are ready for cold and warm at the same time, plus you look outdoorsy and like you might take a hike at any moment, maybe over to the Starbucks, where you will order a pumpkin spice latte and think: Fall, can you please stay forever?

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