Last weekend, despite outside temperatures telling me otherwise, I decided it was fall at the McCarthy household.
Maybe it's all the knitting I've been doing?
I always get bit by the fall bug early, which is especially frustrating considering the weather in these parts doesn't really begin to feel nice and autumn-y until November. And it never lasts very long.
I went about my usual preparing-for-fall rituals -- I bought some new fall-scented candles and hand soap; stocked up on apple juice, which I will mull with my favorite spice mix throughout the season; and watched some football (one of the few Chicago Bears games that will air on local network stations this season).
I really wanted to don a hoodie and start a bonfire in the backyard but the aforementioned ill-cooperating weather halted that idea.
The only thing that's left for me to do is get out my fall decorations, which are in the attic and thus require the aid of my husband. Maybe I can convince him this weekend.
But I have something particularly special to look forward to this fall, which may account for my rushing its arrival: a trip back home.
True, over the last two years I've made the trek to Illinois in November, but if you've been to northern Illinois in November, you know it doesn't exactly have the special fall-ness that, say, October holds.
A northern Illinois November has often already succumbed to the burgeoning winter -- there's a chill, rather than a crispness, to the air.
October, notwithstanding the fact that it's my birthday month, has always been my favorite time of the year.
The leaves are in a perpetual state of changing colors and falling to the ground, there's pumpkin carving and Halloween chatter and my hometown hosts its annual PumpkinFest -- not to mention all the other fall-themed festivals within driving distance from where I grew up.
Sure, some years it was still warm enough to be comfortable without a jacket, but my fondest memories usually involve walking around downtown wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a scarf and cupping a steaming mug of cider (or cocoa or coffee) in my hands while looking at all the pumpkins that kids decorated and displayed on the courthouse lawn.
The only thing I've found that even remotely recreates that feeling is Opelika, Ala.'s Victorian Front Porch Tour -- which is in December.
It wasn't on purpose, but the only week my schedule really allows me to travel happens to be the week before PumpkinFest.
Talk about a happy accident.
So bring on the hoodies, scarves and cider -- I'm ready for a crisp walk down memory lane.
Katie McCarthy, features writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 706-571-8515. Visit her blog at ledger-enquirer.com/junkfood for more commentary.