AUSTIN EDITION - Artist creates map of ancient Rome
Like many people, I was grumbling a little at first about the passing of the summer that almost wasn't.
Recent events have reminded me, though, that I could be living in Florida, where every couple of years (or weeks) the arrival of fall means having to flee for your life.
Clearly, we've had our own troubles with weather recently, but it's unlikely we'll ever see a rain-gear-clad Weather Channel correspondent dispatched to Austin for live remote updates from the shores of a storm-ravaged East Side Lake.
Yep, I'll take autumn in Minnesota any time. It's the season whose arrival normally means a return to reasonable temperatures from the heat of summer, this summer notwithstanding.
Most years, fall is when the air conditioning goes into hibernation, the furnace is only a remote consideration, and we can open the windows to breathe fresh, fragrant and free air for a month or two.
If you can overlook attacks by "no see 'ems," the Asian invasion of beetles (not to be confused with the British invasion of Beatles) and the annual "this is the Vikings' year" blather, you should be able to welcome fall with open arms.
While it's true that fall is a prelude to a few months of weather so disagreeable that many animals -- and some people -- welcome it by going into hiding, there's a certain sense of coziness that accompanies the sun's persistent march southward toward Dec. 21.
I always welcome the opportunity to swap the shorts for a sweatshirt and jeans, and the sandals for shoes and socks, and to sit in the crisp night air around a weekend campfire that I don't have to back away from in order to be comfortable.
Weather aside, before filling with snow flurries and below-zero wind chills, the air fills with the pleasing-to-the-proboscis scents that give fall a distinct aroma. It's the death of summer; the bouquet of leaves dying …; and burning.
Leaf burning is illegal within Austin's city limits nowadays, but you'll catch the fragrance drifting in on the air currents from places uninhibited by regulation. I love that smell, even though its finality tells me summer's over, pick up a rake and pick out a Halloween costume.
I'd be negligent if I didn't refer to the annual turning of those leaves from summer's photosynthetic green to a photogenic inferno of reds, oranges and yellows that for a fleeting period of weeks almost seem, themselves, to create the burning smell.
When I was younger, I would take an occasional solo drive through the gently rolling terrain east of Austin during the peak leaf-changing season and bask in fall's splendor, unconsciously instilling in myself an appreciation for the sights and scents of summer's demise.
I look forward to that drive with my family each year. With the windows down and the breeze in my hair, I'll get a sniff of the air and remind myself why the arrival of fall really is nothing to grumble about, but to take pleasure in.
Doing so is a worthy example of those roses we're often reminded to stop and smell.
Jeff Reinartz is a freelance writer and lifelong Austin resident.