How can this time of year not be everyone's favorite?

I once read a quote that went something like, "September and October are the months that all the other months try to emulate."

Weather envy, I guess.

But it is all so wonderful, no? The crisp air, the empty streets, the deserted beaches with still warm water. Not to mention Halloween, the greatest holiday of all time, quickly approaching. I know there's still warm weather coming, but I love fall enough to put the cart before the horse.

Every year at this time I crave things that I normally wouldn't. Gingerbread. Nut muffins. Pumpkin pancakes.

And coffee. I want to drink it all day.

I have always loved coffee. I drink it black. When I was a student teacher in Pocono Mountain High School, I was too nervous to eat. So I would hit the coffee pot, but couldn't stomach the powder creamer. So black it was.

I would sit in my little cubicle in the English Department office, trying to think of innovative ways to motivate students who were only three years younger than me. I would let the hot steam tendrils snake up to my nostrils, and I would feel comforted. I don't know if there is a chemical or an endorphin in coffee, or if it was merely the steam, but it made me feel safe.

That's true even for me today. I can't think of any situation where I would not want to hold a hot steaming cup of coffee. I watched fifteen minutes of a movie last night about a woman whose young son disappeared on the way to school, and the first thing the mother did was make coffee for all of the police officers.

Here she was, going through a nightmare, the worst thing any parent can imagine, and the first thing that occurred to her was to make coffee for strangers. Why?

Coffee is familiar. Good, bad, strong, weak, it ties people together. Not to steal from John Donne, but coffee is like the standing foot of a compass, and people represent the moving part that circles around it.

The next time you go to a meeting, or a school function, and you see those little white Styrofoam cups, watch where the people are in coordination with the coffee pot. People will mill around, wander and mingle, but there is always a way to get back to that pot.

I am somewhat of a coffee snob, and my sons know it. If we are going out for breakfast, there are a few places in town where they know the coffee will disappoint me.

No, they say, we can't go there. Mom says the coffee tastes like mud.

No, at that place the coffee is too weak.

No, the coffee isn't hot enough there.

But when at a function where there is nothing else, as long as it's hot and black, I welcome the feeling of the warmth, and find it a common bonding tool to my fellow human beings.

Coffee for me is a celebration. If I make a cup of tea, I need consolation. If I have a glass of wine, it's been a helluva day. If I make coffee, my mood is hopeful, optimistic and again, celebratory.

There's a lot to celebrate this time of year. So Happy Fall. Get out there and enjoy all nature has to offer.

Celebrate your kids being off the couch and back to a regular schedule.

Celebrate the beginning of soccer season.

Celebrate the wearing of hoodies and Uggs.

And celebrate the absence of heat, the long cool nights, and fall bonfires.

And pumpkin spice coffee. Definitely celebrate that.


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