Saturday, October 12, 2013

Flavors of Fall

Last month, as I packed up my old apartment, the 105-degree sun beat through my windows sending sweat spilling out of my every pore.

"Oh Fall," I groaned, "Where are you?!"

She didn't answer. I think she was too busy waving her magical color wand across the treetops of Washington, Oregon, and Colorado.

So I promptly bought a plane ticket to my folks' house in Washington state, with the hopes of enjoying a brief October weekend of crisp air, vibrant fall colors, cloudy skies, and rainy puddles.

When I left Orange County on Wednesday evening it was rainy and blustery. Go figure.  Fall arrives just as soon as I leave. But you know, after arriving in Washington, I'm reminded that Fall doesn't ever visit southern California. Sure, the leaves showcase a brownish tint right about now, the heat is dryer, and there's the occasional downpour that scours our smoggy air. But it's not Fall that visits; it's her third cousin twice removed. Fall and her cousin have similar characteristics, but Fall is a much more vibrant, I'm-here-to-steal-the-show kind of character than her mild, I-prefer-not-to-be-noticed cousin.

So I'm here in Washington, and Fall and I are getting along famously. And since some of you must make do with Fall's mild cousin the way I must every October, I've included some snapshots — flavors of Fall, if you will —to satisfy your deprived, season-loving soul.

1. The color, oh the color. Rust, crimson, amber, honey, tangerine, and Winnie the Pooh hues dapple every horizon.

2. Heavens to Betsy, tell me you've eaten a Washington apple straight off the tree. There's nothin' like it. I think it must be as close to pre-Eden, pre-curse fruit that you can get.

3. The fire's been a-blazin' non-stop. I love curling up next to it with a pile of grading. Minus the grading part.

4. I tagged along with my parents to enjoy some Friday night lights. The son of some friends from church is the starting quarterback for his team, so we came to cheer him on at the opposing team's homecoming game. It was clear and cold — a perfect night for football.

The last time I went to a high school football game was in high school, over ten years ago. I wasn't a huge football game fan. I much preferred to stay home with my family. But I reasoned that I was only in high school for a short time, and high schoolers always looked back on their Friday night football games with fondness, so doggonit, I would force myself to those games. I've always had this thing about sucking life of its marrow.

All these years later, I still prefer to stay home with my family on a Friday night, but when they leave, I leave. It was actually a pretty fun game. I got surprisingly into it. "SOMEBODY GET THAT GUY!!!" I found myself yelling at my team, as a player on the opposing team ran off with the ball toward the touchdown line.

Then I was approached about taking a position as a team coach. They said something about wanting a coach who understood the subtle nuances of the game and could help their players to do the same.

Ha. Haha. Ha.

5. There are red barns with fields of horses and cattle everywhere around here. If you Washington folks find yourself behind a gold Acura that's swerving dangerously, rest assured, a maniac is not driving. It's just me, trying to capture the perfect countryside snapshot.

If you are my siblings, you may be groaning right now because you know think a maniac is driving. And, come to think of it, I may be beginning to side with you on this one, Sibs. Because I have made myself carsick every day this week. Los Angeles traffic, what have you done to me?!

6. I've had tea and a pile of waffles every morning since I've been here. Joy to the world.

The next time a friend asks me to give him evidence for God's existence I shall set a pile of pecan maple waffles and a steaming cup of tea in front of him. And then I will ask him to notice all the flavors and textures his taste buds allow him to enjoy. I'll point out how comforting the hot cuppa tea feels to his cold hands, and how the smell of maple wafting from his waffles brings back memories of his childhood.

And then I'll state our two options for explaining the pleasurable morning he and I are having: 1) the universe just happened to wire us with deep longing for goodness and beauty, and then just happened to wire our bodies with the capacity to satisfy our deep longing for goodness and beauty, and then just happened to cover the earth's surface with things and people to satisfy our longings. Or, 2) A good and beautiful God who loves goodness and beauty created us to also love and long for goodness and beauty. And, because he is good, built into our bodies and souls the capacity to recognize, enjoy, and create goodness and beauty.

And then we could talk about the mind-blowing mathematical improbability of scenario 1, and the sensibility of scenario 2. We might even talk about "goodness" and "beauty," and what we mean by those words. I'd ask my friend if he thinks other people ought to have the same idea (and abide by the same standard) of goodness that he does, and when he says yes (because a reasonable person must. Moral relativism is self-refuting, evil-enabling, racist-befriending, moral stagnating, and mind-closing.) I'd ask why he feels justified in telling me that my neighbor, the President, Tonya Harding, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Kony, the al-Qaeda, and I should all abide by the same moral law — that I should not steal my neighbor's wallet, Tonya Harding should not have physically assaulted her skating competition, and Hitler should not have tried to eliminate an entire race of people. To what standard of goodness is my friend appealing, exactly?! And then we'd discuss how the biblical narrative helps us to understand our hunger for and intuitive sense of goodness quite nicely. At which point we would be hungry again, and would want another plate of waffles. At which point I would ask,

"What do you think your huger for food says about the way your body is wired?"

And he would probably say something like,

"It means I am wired to eat food."

And this would allow us to transition into discussion about our soul hungers for utopia, and then explore C.S. Lewis' quote:

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

So you see, waffles and tea on a crisp fall day are a wonderful thing.

7. My mom decorates my parents' house for every holiday. She has lovely taste and a great eye, and I love looking at all of her seasonal vignettes. But my favorites by far are the few decorations she has kept from my childhood.

Oh how they give me a great bit goofy smile.

Happy Fall weekend, friends!


© by scj


  1. You should have been here a couple of weeks ago- there was a rainbow the size and brightness of which I have never seen! Covered the sky- a double bow. It was mesmerizing- I had to park, I could not drive. I could only gaze at it and wonder how Noah felt when he saw the first one...

    1. It's always such a treat to see a rainbow, especially a double bow. We had a huge, vibrant rainbow in my parents' backyard yesterday! The left side looked like it started in a nearby groove of pine trees. I was tempted to go looking for the pot of gold...