Fall equinox 5

An Ode to Autumn

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With the autumnal equinox on Sunday, Sept. 22, fall is finally beginning to settle in on Santa Barbara and Westmont. And with the arrival of autumn comes cooler weather and all the wonderful things to do, see and enjoy about the changing of the seasons. While the effects of the changing seasons take longer in Southern California than they do farther north — the weather usually doesn’t cool down until mid to late September at the earliest — Westmont is beginning to feel the change and have the cool, foggy mornings and crisp afternoons typical of coastal autumn. Autumn brings cooler climes, a change in wardrobe requirements, fall colors and pumpkin scents and flavors, along with apples and apple treats, sports seasons starting up again and the holidays.

Autumn is just around the corner and though the cooler temperatures settling in will make going to the beach no longer such a pleasant activity, the change does mean a chance to start wearing clothes that have been hanging up, unused, since last spring (or since June gloom for those who remain in Santa Barbara for the summer). The sweaters, scarves, boots, jackets, cozy flannel shirts and coats that were all completely impractical or downright mad to wear during the hot Santa Barbara summer are now coming back into use, without wearers running the risk of being mistaken for a hipster.

With the cooler weather comes the rain, and the rain does wonders for the air. The rain clears out the stagnant air from the hot summer days and makes Santa Barbara feel fresh. If the temperature drop leading to a change in weather-appropriate clothing isn’t your cup of tea, the cooler nights mean more comfortable nights for sleeping than the sticky, humid days at the beginning of the semester. All that’ll be needed for a comfortable night’s sleep is an open window, and in a few weeks, heaters will take the place of fans.

Besides being able to wear a part of one’s wardrobe that has lain untouched for months, the cooler weather means that hot coffee is a sensible option again. While a hot drink sounds like the worst idea during the dog days of summer, it becomes a welcome hand-warmer now that the temperatures are dropping. Anyone who comes from a northern or mountainous region, where autumn starts sooner, can tell you that there is really something lovely about going from a cool day into a warm room or coffee shop and heating yourself up with a hot latte, cider or tea. Most coffee shops have specialty drinks during autumn, usually pumpkin-flavored, because what says autumn better than pumpkin, cinnamon, hazelnut or nutmeg-flavored coffee? It’s not just pumpkin coffee, either. Along with pumpkin lattes, there are other pumpkiny things like miniature pumpkins or squash, pumpkins for carving and pumpkin bread. Almost anything can be made pumpkin-scented, like hand sanitizer or candles. But pumpkin isn’t the only produce that makes a comeback in the fall. Apples are ripe and in season, and soon the local Vons and Trader Joes will have fresh apples, like delicious Honeycrisp the size of softballs.

Autumn is the season of change, from the heat of summer to the chill of winter, from the season of growing to the season of harvest, and, in some ways, life to death. But even death can be beautiful — the way leaves and trees die off for the winter. The trees don’t really start changing colors until the end of September or beginning of October, but when they do, they are always worth taking a look at. The trees near the DC are some of the earliest to turn and among the most vivid on campus, though there are others elsewhere, such as near the DTR pond and other heavily treed areas of campus.

Of course, it’s not just about the changes in nature and climate. There are also holidays, like Halloween and Thanksgiving. Halloween is not just for kids anymore. It’s not uncommon for students to go trick-or-treating in faculty housing, as being a college student means that many childhood activities are socially acceptable again. For those who don’t want to dress up, many have movie nights and watch scary (or not so scary) movies. The perks of Thanksgiving are obvious: a longer break, time to catch up on sleep, enjoying time with family and home cooked meals with all the requisite fixings.

For sports fans, the arrival of autumn brings football playoffs and basketball. Basketball is the most popular sport at Westmont, with Midnight Madness being one of the most highly attended events on campus, even amongst those who aren’t big sports fans. For football fans, there are the playoffs to look forward to, the games that set up which teams make it to the Superbowl in winter.

There’s a great deal to look forward to with autumn and its classic activities, so try to enjoy some of them this fall. Take some extra time to enjoy the fall colors on your way to class or from the DC, plan a coffee date with a friend to try the seasonal flavors of lattes or pick up a pumpkin for carving for Halloween. While the beach may no longer be a hotspot for studying under the sun, this month is the beginning of studying in coffee shops.


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