As I sat at my kitchen table a few afternoons ago, munching on Sour Patch Kids and thumbing through TV channels, I suddenly came to a realization. It was 5:15 p.m. — and it was dark outside.
Yes, the sun now sets before 5 p.m., thanks to the end of Daylight Saving Time. Our evenings are now dark and chilly, a gloomy contrast to the warm, bright evenings of high summer.
This is just one of the signs all around us that fall is here to stay. Leaf piles blanket the ground under a bleakly beautiful slate-grey sky, as occasional rain showers keep our air fresh. While frigid mornings can leave my steering wheel too cold to touch, chilly temperatures make pick-up soccer and basketball all the more exhilarating.
Despite this, it seems that we often sacrifice our enjoyment of fall in favor of the season's culture of anticipation. Our excitement for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays keeps us looking to the future, rather than remaining in the present. The limited days of October and November fly by as we wait, depriving us of our ability to savor fall's treasures.
I'll admit that pumpkin-patch visits and pumpkin spice lattes (a mysterious beverage I've never ventured to try) do celebrate some of fall's unique joys. But I have a few ideas as to how we all could develop an even greater appreciation for the season.
First, fall finds itself limited in duration on both ends. No one wants to give up on summer, so they often don't accept that fall has begun until mid- to late September. Then, of course, the voracious corporate beast of The Holiday Season rears its head in early November and desperately tries to convince us that Thanksgiving doesn't exist. I can't bring myself to cut summer short, so let's fight for Thanksgiving instead. Holiday tunes should stay off the radio, and holiday decorations should stay off houses, at least until Black Friday.
Second, let's tone down the emphasis on Halloween. While I love the holiday and all of the spooky celebration that comes with it, we make October disappear by putting all our focus on the end of the month. Adding insult to injury, the passing of Halloween-mania unfairly leaves early November bereft of purpose and meaning. Let's decorate with leaves and squash, target the jack-o-lantern's monopoly and put up our decorations on Oct. 20 rather than Oct. 2. The weather is far prettier in October than in November, and we can take advantage by spending time outside, rather than planning our costumes in our living rooms.
Finally, why not keep Daylight Saving Time around until the end of November? That way, I'll have time to take a walk after school before it gets dark. By "falling back" so early, we've made it exceedingly difficult to enjoy the outdoors, as both the cold and the darkness push us inside.
Oregon's fall is a rare treasure: not too hot, not too cold and not yet dismally rainy. If we pay a little more attention to the days between the holidays (and maybe petition the government to extend Daylight Saving Time), I am of the opinion we could truly take advantage of all that fall has to offer.
We'll have to wait until next year, though, if we want anything to change. This year, the sun has already set.
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