Here Comes Autumn

Along with the turning of the leaves there are other ways to know fall has fell

Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

Ah, autumn in New Hampshire! With the first cool September breeze you can hear the good citizens of our fair state pontificating, "About time we got some relief from this heat," and "Sure - as soon as my leaf blower dies, it's fall!" and the ever-popular "Pretty soon we'll be freezing our butts off."

Aside from our cheery outlook and brilliant ability to wax poetic, there are ways to tell it's fall that only New Hampshirites can appreciate, or not, as it were:

1. The colorful foliage: To most, a joy to behold, as nature paints our world with brilliant shades of orange and red. To us? Every interstate highway jammed with tour buses. The Leaf Peepers. Average age 75. Apparently when there's no color left in your hair, you have to have more in your landscape. None of us really understand this phenomenon. How far south do you have to live to never see a changing leaf? And isn't flying a more bearable option than 14-plus hours on a crowded Greyhound? My Dad is pretty spry for 75, and he needs a nap after a trip to the mall. Who are these people? I am beginning to believe they are actually space aliens sent to experience the effects of apple cider on extraterrestrial intestinal tracts.

2. The "commute": For those of us who make the daily drive to "that other state" for work, the first week of September means the "flip of the switch" we dread all year as a 45-minute, 60-mile-per-hour carefree sail into the big city becomes a 15-mile-per-hour crawling parking lot, interrupted by occasional bouts of coffee-fueled road rage. We know it is coming, but we keep saying hopeful things like, "Maybe more people will be telecommuting this year." But every September first, we realize the soul-sucking, bottle-necking, road-construction-hampered hell will continue. So we do what all New Hampshirites do. We yell at the top of our lungs, from behind the wheel, (at no one in particular): "Next year I'm getting the bleep outa here!" Then we feel better, and get back to the daily on-road business of applying makeup, munching on an Egg McMuffin and catching up on a few phone calls.

3. The "Rut": No, it's not those giant ditches along the highways, although many victims of it do end up there. Come fall, every four-footed critter that roams the White Mountains and the valleys below puts on their "Sunday-go-to-meetin'" fur and takes a jaunt into a nearby town looking for love. Just recently, in Manchester, a full-grown lovesick moose was photographed chasing a honey only he could smell down Elm Street at a full clip. And a black bear was caught doing his best impression of "The Situation" for passersby at the corner of Bridge and Walnut. My own personal car brakes have been put to the test on an eight-point buck undoubtedly gushing to himself, "She thinks I'm CUUUTE." We all dread that heart-stopping last-second swerve - but stop complaining already, my brothers and sisters. It could be worse. It could be Florida!

Two words: horny alligators. I think I'll stay put.

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