We have our first weather alert for freezing temperatures tonight. I am incredibly excited. I’ve lived in the desert for most of my life, and while I enjoy the sun, I do not enjoy the oppressive heat which inevitably follows around here. This year didn’t seem to be as bad as years past since I was busy planning a wedding and helping to relocate a business. I mostly didn’t notice out of sheer issue avoidance. But now, things have calmed down to a maneagable speed and I’m positively silly with excitement over the coming of my favorite season. There’s a certain autumnal feeling I look forward to every year.

Normally, I gauge the entrance of autumn by watching the enormous poplar tree in the backyard. Gradually, the leaves change from green to gold and float tipsy towards the ground. As the wind picks up day after day, the leaves mingle in the air with the scents of the burning wheat stubble and final summer barbecues. Within a week or two, our yard is transformed in a new crunchy carpet which will last until April and changes only by being adorned with the random stray tumbleweed which makes it over the fence.

But now, I’m part of a different family and I have a different backyard. The new backyard is filled with pine trees which won’t take on a seasonal significance until covered with snow. The landscapers are still showing up every week to mow the lawn and the sprinklers still come on in the early morning hours. It didn’t feel like fall until today. The temperature has only dropped below 60 a few times during the past days – at night it averaged 50’s and occasionally a high 40. And now, it’s like a switch flipped. Tenants’ fireplaces are painting smoke in the skies and the landscapers come armed with leaf blowers to clear the parking lots. The sweaters have been pulled out of the closets and the heater is protesting the start of its work year with the annual scent of burning rubber.

In the kitchen, our stocks have changed from fresh peaches and cherries to pears and apples. Pumpkin pies and cookies and pancakes have come from our oven. (Yum!) I’ve introduced my husband to the joys of baked sweet potatoes with brown sugar (and no marshmallows!) Chai tea is the order of the morning instead of orange juice. Our coffee maker is back at it. The tea kettle is an alarm clock. Instead of closing windows and turning on the AC, I’m turning off the fan and opening windows to smell the distant smoke and let the wind blow summer scents away. They’re too stuffy for the clean, crisp fall I’m anticipating.