Good morning, deranged person. I see you sitting there with your big, fuzzy slippers (the French call them 'pee shoes'), your steaming cup of cocoa and your fresh-off-the-press copy of Leaf Peeper Times. The crisp, cool air outside is tempered by the crackling heat of the wood stove. You have a bowl of candy corn on the coffee table and dead vegetables hanging on your front door.
These are such exciting times for you. Every weekend, you'll exchange the pee shoes for L.L. Bean boots as you head out to the orchards where you'll pick buckets of bright, red apples that shine so gloriously they might have been waxed right on the trees. You've got plans for those apples, don't you? Apple pie, apple cider, apple cobbler. You might even dry out the peels, stuff them into a pipe and smoke them, that's how much you love this autumn crap.
There are foliage tours and hayrides, football games and pumpkin beer. You're even looking forward to raking, because if there's one thing more exciting than dead leaves, it's mounds of dead leaves in your backyard.
And the weather! What can you say about the weather, as the temperature dips down into the 30s at night and struggles to get above 60 at high noon? You can finally wear that chamois shirt you bought on clearance in June! No more scorching-hot afternoons! No more sweaty nights when you have to run fans in every window and even a sheet is too hot on your slick skin.
Early dark? That just gives you an excuse to slip into your robe at 5 p.m., put on the pee shoes and cue up some romantic drama on the Lifetime Channel. Something with Valerie Bertinelli, maybe, or Gerald McRaney. Perfect with a warm cup of cider and one of those mutant balls made of popcorn and caramel.
School buses are rolling and the kiddies tote around backpacks. Instead of new-mown grass, the air is scented with burning dead things and you love it. Love everything about it.
In my view, you're twisted. For you, the smell of wood smoke is an intoxicant and the death of fauna is cause for celebration. You like wearing long pants. You'd rather wear three shirts, a coat, mittens and a hat than go shirtless and shoeless. You say things that make no sense to me, such as: "Ooh! I can see my breath!" As though that's a good thing.
You embrace autumn before summer is clinically dead. You greet the end of that grand season with something like relief. You don't sob helplessly as I do when you pull the tent and beach chairs from your trunk and replace them with things like emergency blankets and collapsible snow shovels.
I'll tell you right now (in case you missed the nuance above), I think you're warped beyond repair. And yet, I'm in the minority, not you apple-smoking, chamois-wearing, pee-shoe-loving lunatics.
Some comments from Facebook:
"Lack of humidity. Autumn has its own scent: pumkin ale, pumkin pie, cinnamon scented ANYTHING and macintosh apples!"
"Bestest season of them all!"
"Apple crisp with tons of real whipped cream!"
"Cool nights, crisp mornings!"
"I couldn't live in a place that doesn't have a change of seasons!"
That latter remark just slays me. The only change of seasons I need are Summer and Slightly Cooler Summer. Which means I'm out of luck living in the Northeast because, according to my calculations, we have as many as seven seasons per calendar year: Winter, Still Winter, Sort of Spring But Feels Like Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Whining About Autumn Until Somebody Tells Me To Shut Up.
The irony is that I could love the fall like everybody else if it wasn't a harbinger of such horrible things. How can you love the season while knowing with absolute certainty that on the other side of those pumpkins and cups of cider is the frigid, white-death hole of winter? It's like trying to love a beautiful woman who stuffs you into a meat locker for six months at a time.
Which is why I have such complex feelings (I hate them) about those snow birds who spend their winters in Florida, Arizona and Southern California. Enjoy the Maine fall and then run away, you cowards!
Or maybe I'm just not trying hard enough. Maybe I need to spend more time gaping lustily at dead leaves, choking down pumpkin-flavored beverages and strolling the frigid landscape in fluffy slippers. But the dead flora makes me sad. Pumpkin-flavored anything makes me gag and slippers made of yarn tickle my feet and make me giggle so hard, I dribble down my legs.
It's hard living, for me, in this dead zone between summer and winter. But at least now I know why they call them "pee shoes."
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. You can make him pee into his slippers at email@example.com.