autumn fairy.jpg I have been disloyal to Summer. If this were the Catholic version of Confession, I'd be leaning my head against the screen in the darkened box, ashamed. And, when prompted by the Priest of Seasons, I would sigh and begin like this:

Forgive me, Friend, for I have sinned against Summer.

It has been a year since my last confession.

Twice I have complained about the heat.

Once I have shopped for long-sleeved shirts.

And I have wished for the exit of Summer and the quick onset of Autumn too many times to count.

Thankfully, this imaginary Priest of Seasons and I have a long history. My penance for the whining and weaseling my way out of wearing shorts is usually simple and not terribly painful. Besides, I recently acknowledged the goodness of these bright, searing final summer days by getting a new haircut. And I wore shorts and skirts all weekend long! (My white legs were happy to be out in the air.) So, I'm paid in full.

And ready to be blessed by the coming of Autumn.

She'll be here any minute now. I could smell her today, a sweet, freshness hitching a ride on the summer breeze. Not at all stagnant or sweaty. Autumn, a closeted harlot, comes to woo me each year with that scent. Her maneuvers are subtle, but then she catches me with my eyes closed and grabs my hand. Suddenly my mind is playing hooky. We're swinging in trees and picking contraband apples and husking ears of corn for supper. Our jeans and tshirts are hanging unabashed on the barbed wire fence near the swimming hole.

In a way I'm glad that my new office isn't surrounded with wide, picture windows (as my old one was). When we were there, Autumn would watch me, tapping on the glass with her sunny, long fingers and flipping me that irresistible smile before she collapsed and rolled down the grassy hill in gales of laughter. Oh, she made me so jealous! Now at least I can hide indoors, cracking down on the piles of work, pretending there isn't a big, bright world out there wishing I would come out and explore or, at the very least, sit in the grass and enjoy.

Lunch time comes, though. Every day. And I can't avoid the glimpses of Autumn, easing into my world again. Like on Tuesday... I was hurrying to meet a friend at Red Robin (because I love both Alisa and banana milkshakes!). All weekend I had sweltered along with the rest of the residents in Livermore and Pleasanton. 100 degrees each day! But Tuesday had been shanghaied. The temperature hung in that lovely, feathery-cool realm, hinting at long walks under colorful trees or the need for a sweater. Everywhere I looked, from the yellowing leaves on Hopyard to the cornflower blue sky, Autumn was winking and heralding her own approach.

It's not Summer's fault that she can't quite match up to Autumn's standard. Summer delighted me as a child, but my growing-up times were all best wrapped in the low, watchful afternoon light of my favorite brunette. Autumn floated just beneath the stars on nights when I was out walking with a boy I liked (and absolutely believed I loved). She swung our hands close until they bumped and clasped like it was second nature, eased secrets out into the open, coaxed our lips together.

And she brought with her gold and crimson, crunchy leaves, school bells, the smack of volleyballs on the gym floor, the rhythm of the high school drum line, young love and, of course, pumpkins. Who can compete with a gal who brings such perfect presents?

So, I'll do my best not to groan about the heat and the sweat. Jonathan and I will continue taking late night walks down to the 7-Eleven, relishing the warm pavement beneath our feet, humming along with the crickets. Summer isn't bad. She just can't measure up to my one and only seasonal sweetheart.