Meditations on South Texas Falls

Posted on September 14, 2011 by

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by Anthony Dean-Harris

For about a week in San Antonio, it felt like fall was arriving. Not long after that, our high temperatures crept back up over 100° but for a few days, my mind wandered to the promise of fall—the promise of a season not known for its promise.

Fall in San Antonio lasts maybe a month. Calling such a brief respite “fall” almost would seem insulting but the more appropriate term, summer light, doesn’t quite work on calendars. Fall is still that time when there’s a smell in the air, not burned immediately by the rays of the sun (but steadily reminding you that heat can even burn smells in the air), that coincides perfectly with wearing a light jacket before leaving the house. It entices people to venture out a little more than they did before now that the outdoors aren’t as prohibitively hot, as if the sun were as restrictive as rain and hail. Fall is also the signal for it to rain again, giving the city respite from its annual summer drought, but if it doesn’t rain, it’s cooler so people don’t notice that it still hasn’t rained in months.

Fall is that time to go to events and revel in the outdoors. No longer are South Texan denizens cloistered away to houses and cars and movie theaters. Make way for the concerts in amphitheaters, shindigs in parks, and strolls along the Riverwalk. Fall represents the options that are newly opened to us all, for as beloved as summer is, it gets old fast.

Fall is the time when evening means something. Not night, evening. The gloaming neither stretches on forever nor snaps into night after just five minutes. Dusk is that thing at the beginning of night and the transition between the two is all the more welcome. We make plans that hinge on the turning on of street lamps.

Fall is the time we throw a word into our seasonal lexicon that we seemingly forget for nine months out of the year. We use words like “crisp” and “brisk” and “nippy”. We use them not only for the weather we relish but for the foods of the season. Drinking hot coffee to start the day is no longer a punishment requiring cost/benefit analysis. We think a little less about barbecue and a little more about chili and stew.

Fall makes us feel normal again. It’s the last refuge before the marathon of the holidays, but still carefree. Our concerns are about wearing optional jackets and whether or not it’s time to switch from drinking lager to ale. The mornings turn from “bright” to “golden”. We wander about unconcerned about the oppression of weather, fully cognizant that a South Texas fall is still hotter than most people’s summers. Still, we know what it is to be lackadaisical, at least for a while.

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