Ah, fall … That glorious time of year when the air seems infused with the essence of the changing seasons. The aroma of just-harvested fruits and late-blooming vegetation, the nip of imminent winter, and the brilliant hues of flora and sky. Beautiful.
However, like most things in life, there’s a flip-side.
And nowhere is this more evident than on my own body. Just as the leaves start hinting that they might change color, my body begins its own transformation.
Just last week, we awoke to one of those clear, sunny, cool days that makes you want to slip into your favorite jeans, throw some chili in the Crockpot, and spend the whole day outdoors. With no leaves to rake, we hopped in the car to go apple picking at a local orchard, where we wandered rows of trees heaving with scores of ripe Macintosh, Honeycrisp, Paula Red, and Gala. We picked a full bushel, then headed to an outdoor cafe for a cup of chowder.
Sounds like the perfect fall afternoon, right? I thought so, until I looked at my reflection in the ladies room mirror at the restaurant. Our frolicking fall day had left me with a permanent crease between my brows from squinting, a raccoon-eye windburn around my sunglasses, and severely chapped lips. And my hair had been blown into a stringy mop with the dehydrated consistency of straw.
At home, I slathered myself in exfoliating anti-wrinkle creams, hydrating conditioners, and moisturizing lip balms; but it was too late. My body had started to winterize itself, and any effort to delay the process would be sadly futile.
The next day, the temperature popped back up into the 80s, but my body was having none of it. No sooner did I make the mistake of putting on shorts, when I looked down and noticed that my shins had the crusty mottled appearance of alligator skin – white, flakey alligator skin.
A few days later, a tiny crack started forming in the skin at the corner of my fingernail. For some reason, these minuscule cold-weather lesions are disproportionately painful. One small bump of the affected finger sends deep stabbing pains up one’s arm, and the agony is only partially mitigated by Band Aids and ointment.
To make matters worse, my joints began to ache. Like those cows that lay down when rain is coming, cold weather brings out the bovine in me. Shortly after slurping my first sweet sip of cider, my joints suddenly became a reliable indicator of barometric pressure. “Hey, Lisa’s limping again today – must be a cold front coming through!”
And of course, the lovely autumnal air, with its aroma of fermenting fruits and fall flowers, wreaks total havoc on my sinuses. Thanks to the unique seasonal combo of pollen and mold, I have a constant tickle just behind my uvula, that presents itself like an innocent allergy-related itch requiring me to do that obnoxious sucking throat scratch, but threatens to incubate a nasty case of strep.
By the end of the first splendid week of autumn, I’ve got a face shriveled up like a dried apple, hair so crunchy it’s ready to be baled, skin as flakey as pie crust, joints as stiff as week-old road kill, and incessant post-nasal drip.
On the upside, there are no birds pecking my garden, thanks to my uncanny resemblance to a scarecrow. Go figure.