The change of seasons is so clearly evident, so ingrained in the psyche of human experience, we as a collective culture should never be surprised by it. We all know that it’s going to happen and we have all experienced it numerous times. Yet when it comes time for summer to disappear into the shifting colors of fall, the change manages to violently maul us like a tiger that has been lying in wait.

Sure, autumn is great. There are pumpkin spice lattes, toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie, stuffed pumpkin, pumpkin smashing, etc. However, in light of all these pumpkin activities, I have recently decided that if you don’t have pumpkins, you can’t fully experience autumn. I mean, you could probably fill your autumn with something else like bobbing for apples. But without a pumpkin, you might as well just skip ahead to Santa trying to stuff himself down your chimney.

Being from an agricultural state, it’s hard to avoid the mass inundation of the autumn harvest. Squash of all varieties – yes, including pumpkins – along with apples and corn quickly outnumber the county population. Then they magically appear in your pantry in such large numbers that by the end of the season you don’t want to see one until next year.

I imagine this must have been how the early pilgrims felt when the Native Americans presented them with pumpkins. Befuddled as they probably were by the orange gourd-like squash, the pilgrims went into to a “Survivor”-like competition to discover as many possible uses for the pumpkin.

Autumn for me has always been a very gradual season. It usually starts around September and lasts well into November. A Tennessean autumn is similar to a kind friend who shares all of the very best food with you simply because you’re around.

I would imagine autumn in Erie to be similar to a very confused tourist. The season sort of starts in September, but it gets confused because it can’t communicate what it wants to and just leaves quickly. Overall the season probably lasts about four weeks before the howling winds set in, bringing with them dreaded winter. But until that icy time comes, I’m going to go buy a whole basket of pumpkins to keep myself preoccupied.