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Why this thermophobe is falling for autumn like the leaves

Updated: 2023-09-26 08:10 ( CHINA DAILY )
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Mid-Autumn Festival kicks off on Sept 29 this year in China. However, the season officially begins on Autumnal Equinox, or Sept 23 this time around in the northern hemisphere, so six days in may not technically be the midpoint.

But that's beside the point. Don't fall for such calendrical calumny. The Chinese have every right to jump the gun on my favorite time of year. After all, Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, often comes weeks before the season officially gets going, which is March 19 north of the equator next year — otherwise known as Spring Equinox.

So why do I fall for autumn every September?

What's not to like? By the way, I'm not alone in my opinion, either.

I could be wrong on this detail, remind me to Baidu it later, but key ingredients to make Turkish delight ripen during Anatolian falls, and what better way to bring in the season named after the region's prior empire, the Ottoman, which I like to think was named after my favorite season, "autumn".

So for what reason is the season many people's fave time of year? I can count them on one hand and have not a thumb to spare.

Beijing summers are often sweltering and sodden seasons with rain and photons showering us with Mother Nature's tender heavenly touch from above. It often seems that the moment I confirm orders on food delivery platforms like Meituan or Ele.me, the firmament opens wide and gushes forth a daily downpour.

Not to flash virtue semaphores, but I can't help but feel bad for the scooter-bound delivery staff taking my orders at the time as they struggle to keep glass bottles of Laoganma chili sauce from colliding mid-journey with a dozen eggs, all while dodging puddles and potholes. And with the heat comes drenched clothing and those Carpathian counts of the air. Yes, I'm talking about those nasty gnat-sized Nosferatu nuisances that take wing when the weather's wet and clammy, leaving us bleeding out and itching for autumn.

The third great thing about fall is the foliage. Beijing being in the temperate zone, the capital gets to enjoy four distinct seasons. And in addition to the cooler ideal-for-dozing nights, the days are graced with a kaleidoscope of color from the city's deciduous sentinels watching over its leafy streets.

The fourth wonderful thing about the coming of the cooler months can be seen in the noticeable spring in the fall steps of the millions of parents calling the capital home. For when September comes, the kiddies are spirited off couches, away from devices, and back to the schoolrooms where they'll spend the next five months or so.

Finally, Beijing autumns are a magical time of year for tennis fans. You see, from Sept 30, the day after Mid-Autumn Festival, all the way to Oct 8, professional tennis is back in Beijing after a four-year hiatus! I was in attendance at the final of the China Open in September 2019, when Japan's Naomi Osaka claimed the title with a hard-fought victory over Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki. And now, nearly half a decade on, and with the pandemic receding from view in society's rearview mirror, I can watch live tennis again without worrying about plane ticket and hotel room availability. Even though love means nothing in the sport, I love tennis in Beijing … in autumn.


A. Thomas Pasek



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