As my fellow students complain about the lingering heat and beg for the arrival of fall, I am struck with the synchronicity of everyone's requests.
It's hard enough to get college students to agree on our own football coach, let alone a season. But the vote is unanimous: we want fall. So what is it exactly about fall that makes Americans, and more specifically, UT students, love it so?
Some would argue that it is the onslaught of football season. Having your weekends revolve around Saturdays and, whether the Vols lose or win, is an intoxicating tradition. No one can deny that standing in Neyland Stadium decked out in orange and screaming Rocky Top is one of the best fall activities that exists. But even if we were on a winning streak, there has to be more to it than that.
Temperature is another factor. Despite being an avid lover of summer, even I can appreciate that once the season has conducted its term, it ought to let fall come on in. We all want to pile on the sweaters, scarves and boots, looking adorable instead of just a sweaty, hot mess, as some of us have all summer.
Fall also brings with it the beginning of holiday season — Halloween and Thanksgiving include their own unique traditions of corn mazes, trick-or-treating, food, friends and family. Having these two holidays included in the reign of fall, and leading almost right up to Christmas, gives us the feeling of expectation and excitement throughout the whole season.
Of course, there's the food fall brings as well. All pumpkin everything. Hot drinks – apple cider, hot cocoa and, of course, fall-flavored coffee. Also sweets galore: candy corn, assorted breads, cookies, cakes and pies of varying fruit flavors. Thanksgiving beckons a column in itself.
Despite all of the wonderful things that the coming of fall brings, none of these seem to really capture exactly why it is so popular. Instead, I would argue that it is the feeling which fall evokes.
The crispness in the air gives it a certain heavy sense – a feeling of anticipation. Unlike spring, the feeling in the air is not of something new or liberating; instead this air is a little older and a little wiser. It is just as excitable, but it carries with it a knowledge of winter and what is to come.
It almost feels like the butterflies in your stomach right before you give a class presentation or do anything that scares you, but the butterflies are perhaps a little more amiable, more like when you're about to kiss someone you like for the first time.
There is also a limbo of the seasons, a hovering back and forth between the preceding and succeeding seasons, which somewhat endears fall to people. It keeps us guessing, on our toes – sometimes the day starts out cloudy and cold and then changes to a beautiful semi-warm day. In comparison to the unchanged sweltering heat of summer and the bleak cold of winter, the capriciousness of fall is a welcome change.
But above all, fall gives you the feeling that in this day, hour and very moment you are glad to be alive. Walking around on campus, bundled in sweaters and leggings, pullovers and boots, hugging onto your coffee or apple cider, and almost skipping with joy at the wonderful fall feeling in the air, you realize that in autumn, there is nowhere else you would rather be than East Tennessee.
Victoria Knight is a senior in microbiology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.