The seasonal roller coaster ride has begun again

After a Goldilocks “just right” run of delightful weather, the Twin Cities area is cashing its reality check. The past week has seen below average temperatures and dreariness reminiscent of late November rather than early October. I know there are birds still around, but the past couple of days have been extremely windy. The high winds are causing the trees here to sway like brightly dressed drunken revelers trying to dance (or stagger) a conga line, with some of the trees stripped bare. Watching crows fly backwards and then doing loops is always an odd sight, but they seem to take delight in the wind caused acrobatics. The slate gray sky mutes the colors on the trees until the sun peeks through a break in the clouds to brighten things up. There are many clues that the seasonal roller coaster ride has begun again.

There are different smells in the air. Furnaces are waking after a long slumber and the indoor air has a hint of burnt dust odor for the first few runs. Fireplaces are crackling and the neighborhood air smells like wood smoke. The people lucky enough to burn birch have a warm house and the outside air has a wonderful smell.

There is a different feel in the air. Office buildings that were uncomfortably warm are now chilly as the HVAC system starts its several day switch over from air conditioning to heat. Open-toed shoes, shorts and tank tops are spending more time in closets and lightweight jacket sightings are more commonplace. The mornings start out still and chilly and the afternoons end up mostly sunny and windy. Temperature swings of 30°F or more are common.

There are different tastes available now. Nearly every dining establishment and coffee-house has pumpkin flavored items on the menu. To be accurate, the pumpkin flavoring is artificial in most cases, a witch’s brew of organic chemicals that fake out the taste buds. Like the current bacon craze, pumpkin is showing up in everything but gasoline and laundry soap, though those two staples are probably healthier to consume. Apple harvest is underway and cinnamon scent wafts from bakeries.

Even the sounds of the season change. Apartment complexes with boilers and radiators hear the thud of water hammer until the system purges the air from the lines. Windows spend more time closed than open muffling the sounds. Convertibles blaring loud music and motorcycles with loud exhaust systems stay in garages longer. High school football game sounds carry for several miles from the field of play with cheering and music. Beaches are silent but shopping malls are busier. Dried leaves crunch underfoot and leaf piles become tempting frolicking targets for children and young-at-heart adults.

Couples enjoy the cooler weather. An outbreak of cuddling started recently and probably will not abate until the heat and humidity of next summer arrive. Unlike the flu or the common cold, many people would prefer a case of the cuddles. Cuddling is contagious, but it has health benefits including stress and anxiety reduction. If you have a special someone, enjoy some cuddling time whenever possible. It beats sneezing and wheezing and it will help you manage the seasonal roller coaster ride.

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