Last Wednesday was an important day for me.
Sure, Wednesday is typically the day of the week I hope to complete this weekly column. I say “complete,” because recently I’ve been well ahead of this mainly self-imposed deadline. If I’m early, I wait before sending it in case something else breaks. But I was late this week.
Wednesday was also important for another reason or two.
First, it marked the start of the last week of October. We know that autumn began more than a month ago, but the weatherman wasn’t convinced. That’s not unusual for this time of the year in Central Texas. Previous cool fronts have provided warnings that the seasons are changing, but the temperature predictably rebounded to summer-like conditions. It even happened this week. But the chill expected this weekend is another story. We’re told there might even be a light frost in local areas.
So, all that means that we are really, truly, honestly facing the end of summer — and the start of legitimate fall-like conditions.
The retail marketing experts have been pitching pumpkin spice products for several weeks, but when the thermometer readings have been approaching 90, it felt premature. Pumpkin spice is beginning to make some sense now.
Wednesday was also important because it marked a crucial milestone: only two months remained before Christmas.
I once thought such reminders were rushing the season, but the same thing always happens. Before we turn around, we will be writing a different year on our checks. Yes, some are still writing checks, instead of paying their bills online.
Halloween arrives on Tuesday, and after that, all bets are off. The next thing you know, it’s November, followed by setting the clocks back an hour, then high school football playoffs, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas sales, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day… and another year has slipped into the history books.
I vowed not to let this busy time of the year slip up on me again this time, but I sense I’m already running behind. And with the weather we’ve been enjoying, until now, it hardly seems like we’ve had a real autumn.
I don’t really like pumpkin spice, but it appears that’s the primary way we’re supposed to experience autumn. It’s everywhere. I read that somebody must have decided it’s a law for manufacturers to add pumpkin spice to their products, and their sale must start before Labor Day.
There’s pumpkin spice coffees, cookies, crackers, ice cream, cereals, snack bars, yogurt, butter, peanut butter, and cough drops. Don’t knock the cough drops. Since the most effective cough drops I’ve ever used seemed to be the ones that taste the most awful, perhaps they’ll work. But stock up. By Thanksgiving, they’ll be gone.
At first, my aversion to everything pumpkin spice was moderated by my support for Texas farmers, particularly those in Floydada. That city in the Texas Panhandle is also known as Pumpkin Capital USA, and home to the annual “Punkin Days” celebration on the second Saturday in October. I figured if all these products are jumping on the pumpkin bandwagon, the farmers around Floydada must be reaping huge rewards.
Alas, I’ve been told that the enhancements powering the pumpkin craze are usually not connected to pumpkins at all. Instead, what we’ve been conditioned to accept as “pumpkin” applications are really a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
Talk about trick-or-treat.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.