Sometime in September, I had an urge to burn fall-scented candles during all waking hours, decorate with orange, red and yellow artificial flowers and consume every pumpkin food and beverage I came across. My husband asked what got into me, and I couldn’t come up with an answer that made sense to him. I fought internal battles between wanting to wear sweaters and knowing the forecast was for 80 degrees.
The first weekend in October, my husband’s “side hustle” brought our family to Arkansas, where I’m pretty sure it pushed 90 degrees.
I overheard a man there say, “We’re going on six months of over 90 degrees.”
I thought he was mistaken or exaggerating.
“May, June, July, August, September and now October,” he said as he counted on his fingers.
I realize northern Arkansas is warmer than our part of Missouri, but we can safely say we had a solid five months of 80-degree weather. There were some blustery days in April, only for the thermometer to shoot up in May.
Where my family is in Wisconsin, five months of 40-degree and colder winter weather is normal — November, December, January, February and March, if not more.
I clearly remember learning about seasons in elementary school, and how spring, summer, fall and winter are supposedly three months each. Three, not five months. Three months of fresh life, three months of warm summer nights, three months of pretty leaves and three months of cozy time inside with hot drinks sounds like a good life.
My elementary years were spent in a somewhat utopian, fairly bohemian coastal town in northern California, where winter lows were around 50 degrees and summer highs were in the upper 60s. I had a hard time understanding the change of seasons because our trees did not change color, it never snowed and spring donned the same shades of green and brown as the other seasons.
After moving somewhere with all four seasons, I found fall to be my favorite. Fall is full of cozy clothes, cool mornings, warm afternoons, pretty leaves, lovely candles, apple cider and pumpkin everything. What’s not to love? Caramel apples, spice bread, upcoming family gatherings, corn mazes, the list goes on.
One reason fall is so near and dear may have to do with my former 4-H club’s only fundraiser: making and selling pumpkin rolls. At 9 years old, I found my all-time favorite dessert. It’s a pumpkin sheet cake, cooled, spread with cream cheese filling and tightly rolled into a log of swirled goodness.
4-H club members, parents and leaders spent one or two weekends making pumpkin rolls in an assembly line, wrapping them in plastic and refrigerating them for the local festival. We sold whole pumpkin rolls, pumpkin roll slices and even recipe cards to locals and tourists alike. I later made pumpkin rolls at home with my mom, and gained an appreciation for those with patience for the whole process.
It’s hard to resist buying a pumpkin roll from a baker at a farmers market, but I found an even worse (or better, depending on how you look at it) temptation. Aldi recently had half pumpkin rolls for sale in its refrigerated section. My grocery store self-control is usually reined in very well, but Aldi found my weakness.
Although it is my weakness, both times I brought one home my husband ate as much, if not more, than I did. Both times when I left about a third of the roll in the fridge, I later found only half a slice left. He doesn’t understand my obsession with fall, or why I bought pumpkin spice cream cheese spread, but at least we can relate to a love for pumpkin rolls.
It was entertaining to give the little one her first pumpkin roll slice. She said she had pumpkin cake at her great-grandma’s house and liked it. Putting the piece of pumpkin roll in her mouth nearly made her eyes pop out of her head. “It’s goooood,” she said in amazement.
While we ponder seasons that don’t follow the calendar, join me in enjoying the season of pretty leaves. We don’t know how long it will last. Wear your coziest sweater, drink hot apple cider and eat a pumpkin roll slice. It’s goooood.