Fall is one of those cross-over words, that designate you as US English or UK English. Like pants and trousers, eraser and rubber, fanny and the word beginning with P used by Donald Trump in the now infamous 2005 tape (yes, fanny does mean that in the UK). And this year, I’ve crossed over from autumn to fall.
After eight years in the States, autumn now seems a clunky word to my ears. Worse still is autumnal. Fall on the other hand is like a sigh, a breathing-out, a verbal reminder this is the time temperatures fall, leaves fall, and we can let fall some of the summer regimen of de-fuzzing, de-scaling and de-toxing. If the year’s not waxing any more, why should we?
Plus you guys do fall so well. Your houses with their porches and stoops and yards are made for stuffed scarecrows, sheaths of corn, bundles of hay, and pumpkins. Not for you the feeling that once summer is over, it’s all dark and gloomy until Christmas. First there are the harvest displays, then Hallowe’en, then Thanksgiving, and then it’s whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, so long as you do so with lights and decorations, both inside and out. It’s a natural progression. We on the other hand in the UK can have Santa Claus and sunscreen on the same shelf in the supermarket as early as August, which isn’t great for getting your seasonal cheer on.
Fall also is a good time to fall in love. Last weekend was one of the first in Chicago with a tangible feeling those colder days were just around the corner; it may have been the romantic in me (24 years married today – happy anniversary sweetheart), but there seemed to be couples everywhere, strolling in the park, sitting under the trees, a little more wrapped up than usual, both clothes-wise and in each other. They’d made it through the summer, and the reward was the prospect of a companion for the approaching season of long, dark nights, snuggled on the sofa with take-out and TV.
And this year, there’s another reason why fall seems more appropriate than autumn. We’re in the midst of one of the most contentious presidential campaigns in recent history, a campaign that is falling short of many people’s ideals and expectations. The scarecrows on the lawn seem to have angrier faces than normal, and the Hallowe’en masks in the stores have two new additions, that cause fear and trepidation to different parts of the population. This couple has made it through the summer, but we’re the ones watching them on TV from the sofa.
Yup, this year my choice of name for the season is definitely matching the mood of the campaign. Calls from parties to fall in line, calls that have fallen on deaf ears; potential candidates fallen by the wayside; key issues that are falling through the cracks as candidates focus on e-mails and alpha-males; concerns the country could fall on hard times – or fall apart.
Fall continues beyond the November 8 election until December 21. At least by then all this unpleasantness will be over, and we’ll know who’ll be the next President of the United States. Perhaps given how the current campaign has coloured this particular fall, just for one year, I’ll give the coming season a new name – not winter, but wonter. Because someone will have.
Leaving, of course, a fall guy.
If you liked this, you might also enjoy ‘I love America – Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving and only then Christmas‘