1. Wearing ankle boots that are not too loose and not too tight at the ankle. Perfectly snug in the heel. Perfectly snug in the toe.
2. Crunching leaves beneath their boots, no matter where they step. No matter where they step, there is a crunchy leaf conveniently in their path, conveniently where they intended to place their foot just now. They don’t have to work for it. It’s just there.
3. Building a fire from dried grasses and dried leaves, in the fire pit in the yard. Yes, they know it’s a cold night out. But they know that the fire will be warm, and the company will be worth it, and that they aren’t the kind of people who let challenges and hurdles deter them from the goal.
4. Catching woodsmoke in their hair.
5. Getting a haircut that is just so perfect for the winter, now that they think about it. Dyeing their hair a shade of auburn that looks like nothing that would come from a bottle.
6. Hiking to the ridge. Donning their boots, tying their hair back into a loose braid, putting on a vest, and hiking to the ridge. Driving an hour in the morning, with just a few friends. They are drinking coffee on the ride over, and have just enough water for the hike, and some snacks to eat at the top of the ridge.
7. Letting forth many grateful sighs at the beautiful sight at the top of the ridge.
8. Stepping off the trail on a chance, and finding something beautiful that no one else who has hiked this trail has seen, because conventional people remain on the trail. They are not tethered to convention, and they saw the beautiful thing. They are not taking pictures of it. Taking pictures doesn’t even occur to them. They are just looking at it.
9. Mastering the art of layers. Layering henleys under sweaters, flannels under pea coats.
10. Draping scarves over their slender, dainty shoulders.
11. Jumping into new creative projects. They are making a folder on their desktop. They have bought a nice notebook on sale. They are making a plan and following through with it. The ideas are just pouring out of them.
12. Discovering unique sweaters.
13. Corn maze! Getting lost in the corn maze. Getting found in the corn maze. Finding themselves in the corn maze. Building bonds between friends in the corn maze. Building a perfect team within the corn maze. Getting out on the other side in record time.
14. Delicately eating apple cider doughnuts. Getting no cinnamon sugar residue on their fingers, cheeks and chin. Getting cinnamon sugar only on their lips. The cinnamon sugar is kissed off by the kiss of a lover with cheekbones like sandstone.
15. Becoming enthusiastic about beards. Thinking about the beards they are going to grow, or the beards their lovers are going to grow. Appreciating beards. Appreciating their upkeep. Appreciating beard kisses. Not appreciating beardburn, because they aren’t getting beardburn.
16. Cinnamon sticks.
17. Looking good in every hat.
18. Seeing squirrels! Getting cute pictures of squirrels! In the park! Up a tree! On a power line!
19. Tooting into an acorn cap. Picking up an acorn cap and whistling into it! Tooot! Tooooooooooot!
20. Putting away the summer clothes and taking out the winter clothes. There is just enough space in the closet for the winter clothes. Not too little space. Not too much space. The closet is organized, and all the hangers match.
21. Planning a trip to the lake, and it just so happens to fall on the Last Temperate Day of the Season. Not planning it that way, not even knowing the weather in advance. Not even looking at the weather. The lake is so calm and it reflects the leaves like a mirror. But wait, they think to themselves. It is past peak, isn’t it? And yet, it’s as if the leaves waited for us. They are as vibrant as leaves could be.
22. Having supple skin that smells of vanilla.
23. Owning multiple pairs of matching gloves.
24. Walking their nine-month-old Australian Shepherds about the park, hand in hand with their exquisite lover, who wears a flannel and a vest and horn-rimmed glasses and is good at speaking with children, and who will make an excellent parent when the time comes. Will it come soon…? Will the time come soon…? No one is sure, but they are ready for children, that’s for sure. They are mature. They have their dog. They are stable, emotionally and financially. The possibilities are endless.
25. Knowing exactly what to do with every last bit of the pumpkin.
26. Making crockpot stews from unconventional ingredients.
27. Swirling caramel into lattes.
28. Swirling milk foam into lattes.
29. Sitting in a comfortable chair at a comfortable table at That Cafe, which is warm and smells of cardamom and is not too crowded, not even on a day like today. They are bringing a laptop and a friend. They are having conversation every once in a while, but mostly they are Working on That Creative Project. Everyone is asking them about what they are working on, and they have a response that is tantalizing in its succinctness. Everyone wants to know more about what they are working on, but they won’t tell! Not yet!
30. Positively glowing.
31. Getting all of the holiday shopping done early, this year. :)
32. Going on a friends’ getaway weekend. Just the girls, you know? Just this once. They all cleared their schedules in advance and they all agreed on the perfect place. They found a Groupon for the perfect little getaway. And it just worked. Because somehow, it always does.
33. Making rustic toasts on rustic breads.
34. Getting to work early, so they can get everything done early so they can go home early from work to catch the final hours of daylight.
35. Understanding the practical purpose of mason jars. They know that mason jars are not just for decoration. They comprehend the historic significance of mason jars and their place in domestic life. They know exactly what to use mason jars for, and exactly what needs to go in them.
36. Gasping at the beauty of the first snow.
37. Knowing the calls of birds. Identifying the sounds that birds make, and properly identifying the birds that are making them. They are saying goodbye to the birds as they leave for the winter, because they know which birds leave in the winter. Saying goodbye to the trees where the birds live, too, because soon the trees shall rest against the cold wind. These are not mournful goodbyes. They are saying goodbye and understanding that the animals and plants will return. There is no anxiety here, no sadness. They understand the cycle of life, and are at peace with it.
38. Thinking wonderful, poetic thoughts about what the changing of the leaves symbolizes.
39. Lighting a row of candles. The wax does not drip. The wax never drips.
40. Having the perfect little evening at home every once in a while. They are cozying up to those that they love. They are mulling wine. They are drinking tea. They are reading books together. They are enjoying it as it happens. They don’t need to go out to feel fun. They feel full and fulfilled, just being together, with each other. Not all the time. But just this once. They’re doing it just this one time, or just every once in a while, and that’s what makes it so special. That’s what makes them so special.