Maxed Out 

The springtime of death

By G.D. Maxwell

The National Enquirer!!?!

Whatever. One must look on the bright side of being compared to the all-bold-all-the-time supermarket tab. Now I feel free to commit crimes of punctuation – note the double slammers, question mark, single slammer above – I would never before have been so bold as to spring on an unsuspecting public used to more genteel syntax. And finally, we can start running all those pictures of two-headed babies and walking Elvises we’ve always been too thoughtful to print.

Alas, we’ll have to leave the delusional musings of frustrated mayoral candidates for another column because Mickey’s little hand is coming up on October and his big hand is pointing west and we all know what that means, don’t we?

That’s right; Autumn. (Oh Lord; doesn’t it just cry out for another exclamation mark?)

Autumn began earlier today if you’re reading this on Thursday; if not, you’ve probably heard about it already, and since you read Pique later in the week, you might have missed the garage sales as well. Get with the program.

Autumn is one of my four favourite seasons of the year, possibly my most favourite. For starters, it has the ever-confusing ‘mn’ ending. What’s that silent ‘n’ doing after the ‘m’, you’ve probably found yourself wondering since you first misspelled autumn back in second grade? I’m not certain what the official explanation for this aberration might be but I’ve always comforted myself thinking it’s just another cruel English trick to trip up immigrants from places blessed with a simpler language, Urdu for example.

Whatever the etymological roots of the word may be, autumn – fall, if you can’t remember the sequence of the ‘m’ and ‘n’ – is a great season in the parts of the world where coconut palms don’t grow. The reasons for this are manifold but let us just consider two of them: shorter days and colder days.

Unless you’re a farmer – see discussion on colder days – shorter days are a blessing. Just so there’s no confusion, the days aren’t actually shorter in autumn, it’s just one of those figures of speech, like, "The sun’s getting lower on the horizon." Those of us who still believe in science, an admittedly dwindling number in the Age of Unreason, know the days are just as long in autumn as they are the rest of the year and the sun is relatively fixed in the centre of our solar system, although with the Catholic church backtracking on so many things one might be wise to keep the hemlock handy.

But the days seem shorter in autumn. That’s because summer days are so much longer, which is to say they are chockfull of so many more hours of sunlight – except in British Columbia where it seems we’ve really pissed off the sun god this year – and autumn’s ever-diminishing doses of sunlight give one the feeling of slowly going blind. But that’s a good thing in the case of autumn.


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