18 September, 2009

The Colors of Fall

So it is September. I love the fall. I love the fall in DC especially. By this time the air has a tiny chill to it, not enough for a sweater, but enough for sleeves again. The walk to work is bearable again after the miserable August (which can bleed into September occasionally). But bus windows open because the A/C isn't running. People still love being outside, walking through Eastern Market with lattes instead of smoothies. Women put away the halter and strapless dresses at church, moving to dresses of brown, and green and purple.

I love the colors of fall. The leaves become yellow and orange and red and unlike in CO where they stay that way for three weeks and if you decide to drive to Cripple Creek even a few days too late you miss them, the leaves in DC stay ALL FALL LONG! I have the most amazing picture from my rooftop of DC taken on Thanksgiving day - and it is a sea of fall foliage with a few rooftops poking through.

The change in the air is a subtle reminder that winter is coming. Soon we will be drinking apple cider, maybe even go apple picking, and carve pumpkins, all the while our skirts get thicker and darker, our shirts heavier. The comforter goes back on the bed and we snuggle up with fleece blankets and tea at night. Then comes my birthday (woo hoo!) and Thanksgiving, picking out a Christmas tree and the act of family coming together.

Fall bring quiet. After a long season of high school groups, adult Sunday schools, international tours, and flocks of tourist - who have invaded DC turning it into a disorganized Disneyland - the fall brings calm. The streets are emptier, the locals come out of hiding and start to enjoy the museums, the city takes on a different tone of actually getting things done. It's like when your awkward, loud aunt finally leaves and everyone lets out their breath and everyone can just be normal again without pretense or bumping into someone who doesn't belong. In the fall DC gets to let out its breath, stretch its legs, stand fully again and those of us who call it home get to enjoy the city we love (which is not an amusement park!) before it gets cold and the bitter wind comes off the Potomac and we all start praying for a snow day. 

I love fall in DC. I have to admit I have not been lonely or homesick in Rwanda. But when I get nostalgic, which is the feeling that settles on me occasionally, it's for DC in the fall. I love walking home at 6pm, looking at the Capitol dome and seeing the sunset behind it. I love the feeling of Eastern Market on the weekend, when it is mostly locals and the vendors are different, and the shopping is more laid back and the feeling is one of a great small town and not a bustling metropolis. I love the feeling of starting again - growing up Fall was the start of school, and I still always want to buy school supplies during this time and look at a collection of new pens and pencils and notebooks and think about new possibilities. One of my favorite movies has a line about a boy wanting to send a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils - and I love that

The FDR is amazing in the fall, with leaves scattered across the statues to men waiting in bread lines, huddled over radios. The leaves congregate around the quotes "I've seen war - I hate war... Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship... We must remember that any oppression..." and mix with the water, they scurry across the landscape giving the monument a feeling of reflection, appropriate when we remember the 12 years FDR led us.


I would send you all a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils if I was in DC today. I would get a cup of coffee and sit by a window at work and watch the cars go by, seeing the trees busting with leaves that will only become more colorful and brilliant as the fall goes on. But instead, I ask you to enjoy it for me; I will be the home soon!

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© Amanda Lunday