My dear Indiana.
I miss you most of all this time of year. As the trees here turn to yellow-green followed by brown, immediate death of summer without all the fanfare you bring.
No, you celebrate the cold. You celebrate the death of the joy that was summer with vibrant reds, oranges, and every shade of yellow imaginable. You boast the coming winter, the largest leaves turning the brightest colors.
I feel sorry for those who think yellow trees encompass the beauty of autumn. For those who don’t know what it’s like to work for hours raking leaves into a giant pile, only to jump into them and have to do it all over again. For those who don’t know the unpleasant scratch of a wayward leaf inside a pant leg or shirt collar. For those who don’t know the feeling of coming in to a warm house, legs numb, with a bubbling pot of chili on the stove, and the feeling of curling up under a blanket with said chili (or hot chocolate) and catching a football game.
You are nothing special, really. You don’t have a bustling metropolis that everyone in the world wants to visit. You don’t boast much great history when compared with the ancient streets of Rome. You hold no monuments to remind us of civilizations of the past. There is no place within your borders that makes me wonder what people standing in that same spot, 100 years ago, must have felt.
But within your cities and towns you hold Friday night football games, hooded sweatshirts with knitted gloves, and apple cider held thankfully between numb palms. You hold stands full of hopeful teenagers, football fields full of kids surely destined for the pros.
You hold apple orchards and pumpkin patches. You welcome those who pick you clean of apples, trying this one from this row and that one from that row. You give us apples so crisp and impossibly wonderful that we nibble until nothing is left but a bit of core and some trimmings around the stem.
You don’t hold the prestige of Paris, no. You don’t have cobblestone streets or fashion weeks. But just between the two of us, Indiana, Paris can’t live up to you when it comes to autumn. Oh, she tries. But there is something about the elegant and timeless bridge you place between the freedom of summer and the sacredness of winter.
It is a thing of beauty, dear Indiana, that you hold the hearts of those within you so tightly. Paris is wonderful but I feel she holds no obligation to me. You, however…it’s like you are waiting for my return.
A la prochaine, Indiana. Je t’adore.