Al Batt: Baw boomp ba — are you ready for the arrival of fall?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

Baw boomp ba. Baw boomp ba.

I tossed the ball against the wall, caught it on one hop and then threw it again. The small, yellow stress ball promoting Iowa Lakes Community College helped me to become lost in my thoughts.

I was thinking summer leaves too soon. It comes quickly and then is looooooooooooooong gone. I don’t want it to go. Summer leaves carrying my claw marks. Summer wasn’t all that bad. Fall arrives as quickly as a deer bounds across a football field.

A man walked on the beach of a local sewage pond. When you live on a Minnesota prairie, you make do. A gull flew over and, with impressive accuracy, pooped on the man. It was a direct hit to the fellow’s Clark Kent-like eyeglasses. There was another beachcomber who saw it happen. Me. I even heard it happen — both the splat and the mild epithet uttered by the man. Being a sharp fellow, I realized the man needed something to wipe his spectacles clean. I told him I’d just bought toilet paper and would make haste to my car to retrieve a roll. “Don’t bother. It wouldn’t do any good,” said the drive-by pooping victim. “By the time you get back, that gull will be a mile away.”

Fall is like that gull, except for the pooping part. By the time I realize fall is here, it’s a mile past. A year engulfs us quickly. Fall is a relief or a cruel fate, depending on how you look at it.

When is the first frost date in the fall? It’s the same time every year. Too soon. Each month is a test, but Mother Nature does good work in September.

I saw a display of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios in a grocery store. Each box was available at a discounted price. I thought that product was the epitome of goofiness until I’d filled my car with pumpkin spice unleaded gas.

Fall can be Janus-faced. That may be why fall/autumn has two names. Summer gives way to fall in a peaceful transition of flower, but then summer and winter fight over custody. A father driving along with rambunctious kids in the backseat threatens, “Don’t make me turn this car around.” Fall is like that father. It’s headed to winter, but willing to turn around and revisit summer.

Summer came and went. Here’s part of the new fall lineup. Free samples of winter in the cold bayonets of autumn. Days as brown as UPS trucks. Yellowjackets become sociopaths in soup weather. Much of the decorative gourd season is spent following farm equipment down a road. Walnut and oak trees do their own canning. Fall is when we realize we’ll never have a mouse-free life and a snow globe fills with fallen leaves that have unveiled the beauty of the branches. It’s the fall of the wild. Somewhere near you, a man holding a rake will go insane waiting for the last stubborn leaf to fall. Ponds make leaf soup. Starlings move like a school of fish in the air. Large birds fly overhead in Blue Angel formations. Ugly sweaters become beautiful.

There are many wonderful quotes about autumn. Here are three. “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” — George Eliot. “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” — Albert Camus. “Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.”— Elizabeth Lawrence.

The word fall comes from the Old English word feallan, which means, “to drop from a height, fail, decay, die.” Over time, the phrase “fall of the leaf” was shortened to “fall.” The term autumn can be traced back to the ancient Etruscan word autu, which means the passing of a year and was commonly used to refer to the harvest season. If you’d like to know more about that word, ask your friendly neighborhood ancient Etruscan.

Note the weather on Oct. 9. If it’s sunny, the following winter will be cold. If it’s cloudy, winter will be mild. The three days of Sept. 20, 21 and 22 rule the weather for October, November and December. If fall falls on a Wednesday, it portends a cold and snowy winter. That’s also true if fall begins on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. I hope yours is better than his.

Baw boomp ba. Baw boomp ba.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.