Past Labor Day? That’s fall. Grab the flannels.


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Feb 28, 2024

Past Labor Day? That’s fall. Grab the flannels.

With deepest apologies to all of my warm-blooded friends who dread the loss of summer, well, that time is upon us and your sun is setting. I mean, have you seen 9 o’clock at night lately? Yeah, me

With deepest apologies to all of my warm-blooded friends who dread the loss of summer, well, that time is upon us and your sun is setting. I mean, have you seen 9 o’clock at night lately? Yeah, me neither. Too dang dark out now to see much of anything.

I’m just trying to break it to you as easy as I can. Fall is coming – sooner than you want to admit – and winter can’t be far behind. Sorry, but, hey, at least you look good in flannels.

Yes, I know. You have told me ad infinitum, each and every year beginning mid- to late August, that summer is not officially over until the autumnal equinox. Technically, that is correct. And so that we can all, in unison, count down the diminishing daylight hours to that exact moment when the sun sambas past the equator on its way to the exotic beaches of Rio, São Paulo, Ipanema and Montevideo in the Southern Hemisphere, I looked it up, and on this trip around the sun the appointed time is exactly 2:49 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23 – local time.

And that, for some, is the line in the sand that does not wash. You choose to remain obstinate, oblivious to the hard and cold facts of the seasonal clock as it ticks inexorably toward what must be.

September bears no resemblance to summer, of course. That divide – almost universally acknowledged – happens Labor Day weekend. I know a couple of you will push back, slip into your most revealing beach outfit, lather on another coat of sun screen, reach for your sunglasses and test fate with another boat ride around Lake Stephens or a long and soul-crushing trip to Myrtle Beach where that salty spray off the Atlantic, which felt so delicious, so cool and refreshing back in the heat and humidity of July, delivers a cold and cruel slap of reality. Yes, that’s September with its game on, announcing itself with authority and telling you to go inside and put some clothes on.

For the rest of us operating with greater common sense in the local latitudes, we know that summer is headed off stage, turning its warming face to the south and leaving us in the cool and crisp air of its long shadow. You will need a wrap, soon, maybe a jacket and a pair of gloves to stay comfortable, especially if you are headed out on a Friday night to cheer for the local high school football team from the uncomfortable and unforgiving confines of aluminum bleachers.

But, take heart for those who are revulsed by the mere mention of a pumpkin spiced latte. The reason for the season around southern West Virginia is an extraordinary number of quality festivals that stretch deep into October. By way of example, you would be hard pressed to find a more interesting and contrasting lineup on three successive weekends any time of year as this: Chili Night, Oct. 7, in downtown Beckley; a three-day run of fun at Hinton Railroad Days, Oct. 13-15, with no fewer than two dozen bands; and on Oct. 21, the biggest celebration of all, Bridge Day in Fayette County, where half-crazed daredevils from all across the country BASE jump off the longest arch bridge in the western hemisphere into the gorge, 876 feet down to water and rocks.

Last year about this time, our youngest daughter, Jordan, was living at home with her parents and working remotely, preparing for a move to D.C. and cooking big with her dad. Because I like being that dad and have done that job for more than a couple of decades, and because I truly dig hanging with my kids, I fell naturally into that role when she was home and, well, we did the “let’s make a mess of this kitchen” thing, but on weekends we were often off to various points of the compass. And I can tell you that we both had a lovely time, venturing out, laughing, joking, exploring and finding real gems. The deep fried Oreos were a revelation. We played celebrity judge at Chili Night, listened to quality music at the outdoor bandstand in Hinton and kicked back with a couple of cold, locally brewed beers at Freefolk Brewery, dogs allowed, to top off Bridge Day and the season.

September and October are fall in these parts, and, yes, there is a chill in the air.

But you don’t have to go all the way to Brazil to be warmed by a summer sun. Hanging out with friends and family right here at home will give you all the warm fuzzies you need.

Never hurts to slip into a flannel shirt, of course, and get out and about.

J. Damon Cain is editor of The Register-Herald. Email him at [email protected].

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