I keep forgetting that I get depressed around this time of year. I always remember that I get depressed in February, but for some reason, when I hit the doldrums in September it always takes me a few weeks to remember that it happens this way every year. And, just like my February doldrums it always takes me a while to remember that the reason I’m depressed is that Ohio isn’t New Hampshire.
There’s really only one time of year that I like in Ohio. That’s late evening in August, where, after a hot and humid day, the heat begins to recede and you can sit on your porch watching the sun set in an orange haze while listening to the cicadas. The problem is that in order to get to that evening you have to sit through a sweltering day under a bleached white sky with an atmosphere that you could drink sooner than breathe.
In fairness, New Hampshire has its nasty season too. It’s that straggling end of winter that comes around April and usually lasts through May. Locals know it as mud season. It’s a mess of slushy snow melting off, temperatures too cold to be comfortable but too warm for snow to stick, and desperate thoughts that only a few hundred miles to the south there’s this thing called Spring that we’ll never see. I never really knew what Spring was until I went to college in Pennsylvania.
But the rest of the seasons, for my money New Hampshire is perfect. We always go to visit in the Summer, so I get my fix of the clear blue skies, highs in the upper 70s, sunlight slanting through leaves, mountain brooks running over granite boulders… you get the idea.
But Winter and Fall, I’m in Ohio. And Ohio doesn’t get either of those seasons. Fall in Ohio means that the trees turn brownish yellow and you get some breaks in the Summer heat before it goes away completely. Winter in Ohio means overcast and cold drizzle. How can anyone enjoy that?
Recently several things have come up to make me feel it even more. A colleague went to New Hampshire for a week and visited the mountains on my advice. A friend wrote about exactly what I miss. Another friend has moved to the Midwest and is discovering what it lacks.
I haven’t been back to New Hampshire in the fall since 1995. And fall is the best season. The air goes cool and crisp, the leaves explode into color, and every day feels like a celebration of the Summer that has been.
I miss drives through corridors of fiery gold. I miss smelling woodsmoke on the air in the evenings as the warm day gives way to the cool night. I miss frost on pumpkins. I miss walking in my wool coat through an orchard, picking baskets of apples. I miss “my tree” turning to orange the week of my birthday. I miss climbing the ridge of a mountain under snow-heavy clouds, looking down the brown-grey slope to where where the dark green firs give way to orange, red, and yellow, ending in the slate blue mirror of a lake.
Entry filed under: New Hampshire.