C. Derick Miller – Head Writer
Your Stories on Video
Are we sure it’s October? I mean, I know I live in Northeast Texas and the month of October rarely gets cold until the very end, but it doesn’t even feel like Fall to me! I’ve traveled the entire country from top to bottom, left to right, and I know what Fall is supposed to feel like! Trust me, it’s not this.
I remember many times as a kid getting all excited to pick out my costume and go trick or treating in the neighborhood. The weather would stay warm and almost summer like, teasing us all that we wouldn’t need to cover up our costumes with some ridiculous, bulky jacket. Then, October 31st would roll around…
We’d all be shivering up and down the street, filling our bags with candy as quickly as we could just to get out of the cold! Most people didn’t even want to answer their doors because the heat would escape from their comfortable living rooms. As an adult, I truly don’t blame them. Being the guy who pays the bills and is in total control of the thermostat is a hefty responsibility! Next thing we knew, we’re all sniffling down the hallways of school with a well-earned head cold from the change in the weather.
At least, I think it was the change in the weather that caused us to have colds. That’s what my grandmother always claimed. She said that a change in the weather would always cause you to get sick or if you went outside after taking a bath without drying off properly. Something about your pores being open. You know, to be quite honest, I never bothered looking that up to see if it was factual. She also tried to convince me that putting butter on a burn would help it heal. She was so convinced of that little piece of falsified medical knowledge that it caused a rift between us that lasted until her passing. I’m sure there were other things that drove us apart but I’m fairly certain the whole butter on burns argument was the kickoff.
One of the things I looked forward to the most when I began traveling the country was experiencing a real Autumn rather than the fake one we receive in Texas. Not just for the sake of Halloween but because it’s always been my favorite of all the seasons. Sure, as a writer, I tend to be an extremist, but I enjoy my seasonal temperatures to be somewhere in the middle. Comfortable, with just a hint of hoodie, if you will.
In Arizona, New Mexico, and California, it was a beautiful thing. The days were nice and cool, and the nights were even colder. Still, it was sunny without a hint of harsh weather during the daytime. At night, a light jacket or sweater would keep you right where you needed to be. You could sleep with the windows open if you chose to do so or even drive down the street in your car without your air conditioning. It was the nicest time to be in the desert in my opinion.
Then, there’s the Pacific Northwest. Whether I was in Portland, Oregon or Seattle Washington, the rains would bring the cooler temperatures while rustling up the scents of the forests. Everything was wet and shimmering no matter where you went. It didn’t get too cold, but you didn’t dare walk around in short sleeves and shorts. You could definitely tell that winter was on its way!
The Midwest? Meh.
Almost constant cloudy skies and wind. Lots and lots of wind! Wind that would chap both your lips and your butt at the same time and, fortunately, there’s no such thing as a product called “Buttstick” to moisturize your chapped butt! I’m joking, of course. Not about the lack of a product knows as Buttstick, but the fact that your butt would be chapped at all. That would imply you were running around the Midwest without your pants, and I would do no such thing! The Midwest didn’t deserve such treats. To sum it up? Windy and cloudy. Not my cup of tea.
And now, for my favorite…
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a Halloween in New York City, but I’ve also been luckier and spent one in Salem, Massachusetts! The leaves on the trees turn all kinds of Fall colors (These are things we don’t get in the South. We have either green or dead. No in-between.) With a chill in the air cool enough to warrant a fireplace! It’s something you must experience for yourself before it’s all said and done. Don’t let the television con you into being enough. Your eyes need this treat.
I recall driving at night through the small New England towns with the moon high behind the trees on cloudless nights. Most of them look the same. Like something out of a Norman Rockwell poster and still laid out the same way they were upon their initial construction. Usually, there is a large church in the middle, surrounded by small businesses on the town’s square. Then, the homes all branch out from there into different grids and neighborhoods. It was a surreal feeling, and, after dark, it was rare when I’d pass another vehicle on those quiet rural highways. Maybe those families were too smart to be out in the older parts of our country at that hour to avoid what lurks just beyond the shadows of the city?
I also recall a lot of the houses having candle shaped lights in every window that faced the roads. When I inquired as to what this meant with the locals, I was told it was a long-standing tradition meant to provide a beacon to those who were away from their families. Again, I never bothered to research this, but I think it was because I didn’t want to know the truth. Isn’t that the best reason you could think of? Knowing that someone back home loves and misses you enough to light a beacon to help you find your way back home? Even in the time of GPS? That’s a kind of symbolism I can get behind without knowing the truth. Just taking it on faith!
What is your favorite part of the country to experience Autumn? By any chance are you a resident of the Midwest and suddenly upset with me for selling it short? Here at Your Stories on Video, we want to know! Prove me wrong in the comments below and tell me your favorite Halloween memories from Oklahoma, Kansas, or Iowa! Have you ever walked the streets of Salem on a chilly October night or Central Park under a full moon? Does the crisp, desert air in October suit you better than anywhere else you’ve ever traveled? Have you ever fled to the protection of an umbrella in Seattle, laughing like a child as you splashed through the puddles? I recall many of these memories and it makes me smile as they dance through my mind. I want you all to smile with me.