Autumn’s Up

It’s a pumpkin spice world. We’re just living in it.

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

Yes, I agree with you. There are far too many pumpkin spice-flavored novelty food items in our grocery stores, many of which barely make sense. Pumpkin spice coffee? That’s expected. Pumpkin spice breakfast cereal? Fine. Pumpkin spice Triscuit crackers? Heinous. Pumpkin spice dental health dog treats? I clearly made that up.

Or did I?*

The trend is out of hand. But I’m OK with that. Pumpkin spice generally tastes pretty good. It’s a seasonal treat, and if people want their waffles to taste like nutmeggy pumpkin pie, it’s their own gourddamn business.

Really, I’m just happy to see so many people embracing anything to do with autumn, which I think we can all agree is the very best season in the history of planetary climates. Not loving autumn is like not liking puppies or oxygen. It’s just not natural.

And yet. There are those among us who see autumn as nothing more than the end of summer. They love summer, and they’d like it to last forever.

Because they are insane.

I don’t care how much you love waterskiing, fishing, baseball games, windsurfing, tornado-chasing, drive-in movies, or two-on-two Top Gun-style beach volleyball. Summer is hot and sticky and itchy and full of insects that give you diseases like Lyme disease and, um ... malaria disease.

I won’t even broach the oft-ridiculed subject of Wisconsin’s phenomenal summer humidity, because such rants are far too obvious. And as we all know, Mike Paulus does not make obvious observations.**

Autumn is the sweet spot between summer and winter, a magical time when there’s the least amount of weather-related annoyances about which to complain.

Fall is the best around, and nothing’s gonna ever keep it down. Not even if summer teamed up with both spring and winter to form some sort of mutant super-season where you go downhill skiing past clumps of tulips onto a huge jump sending you cannonballing into the soothing waters of Lake Wissota. Even then, autumn would dig deep into its flannel-clad heart and find a way to defeat the evil Frankenseason.

I’m tired of people singing the praises of summer and all it has to offer. It’s totally overrated. Case in point: tubing on the river.

I’m so sick of hearing about how hugely popular river tubing has become around the Chippewa Valley. It’s not like someone just invented a new, cutting edge water sport or something.*** It’s ... floating. That particular summer activity was taken to the next level decades ago when some drunk idiot mounted an inner tube, tethered it to his Bassmaster aluminum fishing boat, and told his Uncle Randy to gun it. Simply floating while getting a sunburn seems like a colossal step backwards.

And another thing. What’s up with all the bacteria level alerts at our local swimming holes? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the alerts because I don’t like wading in bacteria any more than the next guy, but the sheer quantity of this past summer’s bacteria alertness felt off the charts. The safety of our local beaches seemed to depend on which way the (oppressively humid****) wind was blowing. Back in July, you could poke your head out a window and actually hear the alternating cries of swimsuit-clad Chippewa Valley children as they cheered and booed on an hourly basis.

That kind of crap never happens in autumn because no one sane is swimming. We’re too busy having an absolute blast chugging apple cider and Octoberfest beer on hay rides through picturesque (and possibly haunted) countrysides. We’re wearing attractive mid-weight jackets and kick-ass boots. We’re sucking in lung-full after lung-full of invigoratingly cool air. We’re living our best life.

Join us, you summer-loving fiends. We are legion. We are snazzy-scarf wearing, earth-toned orchard-lovers. Out voices thunder across the Chippewa Valley as we take to the golden-hued treetops and roar of fall’s numerous virtues! We are the future. Join us.

We have the lattes.


* I did not.
** Paulus-penned references to Wisconsin’s humidity in Volume One magazine alone: 2,517
*** Unlike me. Last summer, I invented River Tubin’ Crossbow Sharp Shootin’.
**** 2,518

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