Fall is my favorite season. The idea of leaves changing colors and the crisp autumn air has excited me since I was little. Since moving to Arizona this has posed a problem, since the Phoenix area really doesn’t have a fall. The few trees that do change colors usually do so around Christmas. That being said the northern part of the state, namely Oak Creek Canyon, has always been a touch of New England for me in the fall.
Life’s circumstances have prevented me from journeying north for the past four years. Thankfully, I was able to go with a few friends a couple weeks ago and explore Sedona and Oak Creek for the day. We pulled off the road and had lunch beside Oak Creek. Leaves were starting to litter the water, gently being pulled downstream. It hasn’t gotten cold enough for the leaves to fully turn yet. November is usually when the foliage is best in that area; even so, there were a few trees that showed scatterings of yellow and red. That’s a big difference from Massachusetts. Usually by October most of the leaves have turned and taking car rides into the mountains, or even farther north—Vermont and New Hampshire, was the norm.
One thing I greatly miss from Massachusetts is the fall: the sweet smell of apple orchards and the prickly stems of pumpkin patches; the hayrides, and allergies; and the cliché red barns with fresh cider, and crafts. Not to forget apple picking, and eating as many as you could, all while filling the basket. Each region of the country has its own cultural perspectives on the seasons and customs, and while most can be somewhat interchangeable there are certain aspects that each region cannot fully embrace—no matter how much displaced persons try to change it. (Just an FYI when I say displaced I’m referring to how I or a person connects to an area. For example, I am a displaced Massachusettsan. While I’m from there I still may not belong there, yet I don’t fully belong to Arizona.)
Fall is just a season, and may have no meaning or connotation to it—but for me the changes of the seasons have always brought with them their own excitements. Each season possesses its trademark beginning: the first robin or flower of spring, the first hot day, the first snowfall, and the first tree to turn colors. So how does one mark the seasons when the indicators are so different from one region to another? For me I still decorate for fall, and I always try to add a touch of New England to the décor. When I first moved here I got cornstalks—this year it’s a hay bale with pumpkins and mums on and around it.
It may sound silly, and maybe it is, but sometimes we need things to remind us of what’s consistent in our ever altering world. Tradition is what keeps societies knit together and moving forward. As one professor told me, “Tradition is the creation of the future from the past.”
For me, celebrating fall the way I used to in Massachusetts is preserving tradition for the future.