The Power of the Pumpkin; fall obsession & blaming my brain.


It's baaaaaaaaack!
 The first day of fall is upon us, and I'm all in. The sublime scent of pumpkin harvest wax tarts are wafting through my house. I'm slathered in fall scented lotion. The decorations and violet and orange lights are coming out after my art show this weekend. It might still be in the upper 80s here, but I'm making my own autumn, damn it.

 Naysayers have even posted things like this gem from Cheezburger.
Posted by Booboogbs
 I don't care. I'm wearing yoga pants, I love fall, and I'm about to tell you why.

  I know some people are sick of the pumpkin craze. From lattes to potato chips, food manufacturers are cashing in on the fall trends. But let me tell you it's not a trend,
it's a way of life. If heaven is whatever we love the most, my afterlife will be set amongst brilliant fall foliage and crisp autumn smells.

 I know I'm not alone. According to several polls, at least one quarter of Americans say autumn is their favorite season. Why? Like I mentioned above, there's the color, smells, food, the list is long.
Heart of it All

But all of the other seasons have their own distinct qualities in those categories. Why is fall such a celebrated season? I decided to look a little deeper and figure out why fall has such an emotional pull on me.

  I'll start with temperature and it all really unfolds from there. In most parts of the country, fall is the beginning of cooler weather. There have been a few psychology studies that conclude human happiness is maximized at around 57 degrees Fahrenheit. It may sound chilly to some, but doesn't that sound like a perfect temperature to don your favorite hoodie and hiking boots and go stomping about in piles of crunchy leaves. I'm sure you've all heard of "hoodie weather". It's amazing. It is my favorite and always has been. 
 As a school age child, I walked to and from school every day. 

Autumn Path

(What is it with current school pick-up "car lines" and why are they so insanely long?) 
Those walks home from school during September and October in the chilly Midwestern air were always the best part of my day.

Autumn Treat, plaster mini
 Sometimes I pulled my jacket tighter and found a sunny spot to sit and enjoy my latest library book (another smell I wish they could manufacture) or simply stare at clouds in the sky. There's something about the cerulean blue of an autumn sky.
 I've painted them, but it's just never the same.
Local Color

 If it was raining, I would hurry home on the glistening street littered with gold and crimson leaves. I usually walked into a house full of cooking (comfort food) smells and curled up on the warm couch to finish my book.

 Here in Florida, I get about 3 or 4 hoodie days a year. If I want to read outside, my book's pages sadly wilt in the humidity and the smell of sweat and sunscreen overpower any possible book aroma.

  Sure, I don't have to shovel snow, but wearing shorts year round is tiresome.
There's just nowhere to hide that extra piece of pumpkin spice roll. Hoodies, my friend, are perfect for that.

 Autumn in the heartland was a time for traditions. A time to slow down and turn inward, yet build new relationships, projects, and anticipate change. 
There were a myriad of fall activities for which I have fond memories; 
football and soccer games, harvest festivals, raking leaves, hay rides, Halloween, trick-or-treating, ghost stories, corn mazes, apple picking, my birthday, Thanksgiving, I could go on and on and on. There are many more personal reasons, too.

Autumn Treat mini; Windy Whirl

I won't divulge all those, but I can't recall an autumn in my formative years that wasn't exciting yet serene.

The bottom line is memory.

  Another cool thing about our brains is the way our physical senses are inventoried and cataloged while they are forming memories. Colors, temperatures, tastes, sounds and textures are all accounted for, but our olfactory sense is the strongest when our brains write and archive our memories.
Watercolor Web
 While other sensory information could be searched for retrieval, smells are like a shortcut into that specific memory file. A smell trigger can actually bypass cognition and retrieve memories and emotions associated with that smell.
(If you're into neuroscience, you might like this article that explains brain activity during this process.)

 I don't have those rejuvenating autumns anymore. Life in Florida is very different.
The temperatures here won't dip for several more months, and even then it's only for a couple of hours. A hoodie in the morning is quickly shed in the Florida sun.
I'll be busy with art shows and I won't be reading enough for pleasure. 

 I may not have the autumnal respite I remember so fondly, but I will try to boost my mood and cultivate that fall feeling with decorations and smells. 
I'll cook pumpkin soup and drink hot cider even though I'm in a sundress. 
I'll hang a cinnamon broom and listen to spooky stories on podcast while I paint.
Crow Moon
I'm buying all the fall flavors. 
I'm tricking my brain into remembering parts of me and my life that are sacred.

 So, the next time you sigh at the smell of some harvesty candle, ask yourself why.

 Thanks for reading, but I have to go. It just started pouring rain and I need to turn on the kettle.  
Harney & Sons Pumpkin Spice tea is delicious. 
It goes great with a heaping tablespoon of this manna on toast.
Pumpkin Pie Butter from Arizona Marmalade shop on Etsy.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Artwork & Play. * BLOG TEMPLATE DESIGN BY Labinastudio.