The fall is officially upon San Francisco. The red maple tree outside my window now sports the colors of a sunset but not one leaf has fallen to the ground just yet. While I often argue the West coast seasons pale in comparison to the East coast, I am coming around to the idea that while it is nice to have snow in the winter and heat in the summer, the seasons are what you make of them. And so, I’ve come up with five surefire ways to celebrate this subtle onset of a changing time.
1. Make a leaf-themed mix CD for your friends.
I associate the season not with death as many might, but more so ennui and in the most exciting sense of term. Oh, what music can accompany this listlessness! The minor chords of possibility! I suggest starting the mix with something warm but bold, to set the tone for the rest of the album. For example, if your theme was music to listen to as a leaf floats gently to the ground, you might then begin with Karen Dalton’s “Something on Your Mind,” a tune that begins accessibly and then that deep ungendered voice enters with one word: yesterday. (Alternate intro song: Nico’s “These Days”). And then from there, those synesthetically orange-colored musicians can take the reigns. Simon and Garfunkel, Real Estate, Cat Power, old Bruce Springsteen, Nina Simone, Laura Nyro. And of course, the charming Jens Lekman whose song “Maple Leaves” is a heartbreaking ode to the misunderstandings of love set to the strings of Mamas and the Papas’ “Do You Wanna Dance,” another band whose harmonies could lift a pile of leaves into a swirl.
2. Talk to spirits through a Ouija board.
According to legend, the board began as an intended parlor game but then the spirits simply took over, using it as a portal to the living. A small heart-shaped piece of wood known as a planchette is used to contact the other side for answers to age-old questions such as: “Will I find my dream man?”; “Are you here to kill me?” and “Will my mom let me go on the ski trip?” You might suspect your friends are moving the planchette around and this suspicion might stem from your skepticism but that’s all part of the fun. Gather a few close friends, light some votives and get your scary on. And if you’re lucky, the spirits will talk to you first without even a prompting question. Once, when I was little, this girl down the street was by herself in her room and the Ouija board just happened to be out. The planchette started moving and she watched it spell out: M-A-K-E-M-E-A-S-A-N-D-W-I-C-H. Now that’s some pretty spooky stuff.