Falling out of love with fall
Because I refuse to give Comcast any more business than it deserves — which is negative 800 billion customers, in case you were wondering — and because “Arrested Development” and “Breaking Bad” are on Netflix, I do not watch television at school.
When I go home, however, I always have an inexplicable urge to watch Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel. Maybe the domesticity of Northern Virginia makes Tony’s encounters with Icelandic fishing captains and fermented shark that much more appealing, or maybe I have a thing for middle-aged, nicotine-afflicted chefs. That could explain a lot about my dating history. But I digress. Either way, an episode about Tuscany featured a five-minute segment in which Tony absolutely sautés the use of “seasonal” as an Almighty Adjective.
I fear Grounds has fallen into this very trap, and it makes me so sick that I might need a few au- Tums — am I right? I’m not falling out of love with fall, but our incessant labeling of every molecule as “omg, that’s so fall” detracts from the season’s beauty. Every other time of year, for example, orange means orange — except during winter, when orange describes that chick who still does not care that tanning beds scientifically augment her chances of skin cancer. In the fall, though, orange morphs into “pumpkin spice,” “gorgeous gourd” or maybe even “yummy yam.” Orange can only have so many shades, not to talk of flavors and behaviors.
Why is the same shade of the same color labeled as “crunchy falling leaf I just stepped on with my Frye boots” in October, but then back to “orange” the day after Halloween? I could get all Thornstein Veblen on you and embark on a tirade against capitalism, but I only skimmed that sociology assignment enough to participate once in discussion. Honestly, I do not even care about the capitalist exploitation of nature’s seasons so much as I care about our annoying autumnal habits.
To you first years — save yourself the label by leaving your necklace-ID holders at Cauthen — who were playing in the Lawn’s leaves yesterday, that was really cute and I was sort of jealous. But it would have been much more endearing had I not also overheard, “Isn’t this just so seasonal of us?” and “Wow, this is going to be the best fall profile picture ever!” Based on my Instagram feed of nearly 80 pictures of the Lawn during fall, it would be hypocritical for me to bash the photo shoot.
But I still disagree that everything must be labeled according to the season for it to become “a thing.” Take the picture because raking leaves reminds you of childhood or because you find the pigment changes beautiful, not because a seasonal fall profile picture would go so well with your diabetes-inducing fall Starbucks beverage. Now, you wannabe lumberjack, off with your flannel! I know it totally made you fit in at the Avett Brothers concert, but wearing flannel to every event between September and October does nothing to make them certifiable fall festivities. You wear flannel because it keeps you warm and because your brother had that L.L. Bean employee discount a few years ago, not because you are the embodiment of all that is autumnal and holy.
In fact, if we really wanted to be “so fall,” we would trek out into Orange County — oh shoot, I mean Popping Pumpkin County — and actually harvest some crops. I doubt we would actually think those tractors are sexy.
Call me a curmudgeon or a Slytherin, but reliance on “seasonal” as a way to describe and live life reduces everything to a cycle. “That is so fall, so winter, so spring, so summer.” Aside from sounding like a rejected chorus to a “High School Musical” ballad, this pattern offers no dimension. If nothing else, let us remember that earth’s revolution — not an infiltration of plaid or pumpkin — ‘tis the reason for the season.
Elizabeth’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.