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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Autumn/Fall (08/27/09)

TITLE: Pretending Doesn't Help
By Deborah Engle
08/31/09


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Some people would never consider the thought, but I canít deny the beauty of winter. The intricacies of a snowflake or the sight of a cardinal on the branch of a snow covered pine tree can take my breath away. Spring inspires many with its apple blossoms, lilacs and daffodils, all delights to the eye, and welcome promises of renewal. Summer seems idyllic in many ways, but my personal favorite season of the year has to be fall. Without a doubt. No question about it. ÖWell. ÖMaybe not.

Every year, the relentless heat of summer gradually gives way to the cooler days of fall. The animal kingdom responds by intensifying their preparations for winter. The plant kingdom does itself proud, producing a grand finale of inspiring color. Me? I reluctantly become aware of a persistent pressure in my face and a fullness in my ears, precursors of what lies ahead. The glorious season of autumn, for me, is also sinus and allergy season. My lymphocytes have become over-achievers, producing legions of antibodies and histamines that I donít want or need. The only thing they accomplish is to make me miserable. All their frantic activity drains me of energy, and I drag myself through each day.

At first, I pretend nothing is wrong. The glories of fall captivate me, and my senses awaken whenever I step outside. Bright sunshine and deep blue skies illuminate the puffy clouds scuttling by. A cool breeze, just a hint of the power that moves them, refreshes me as I watch the soothing site. Unfortunately, my itchy, watery eyes canít tolerate this. Inflamed eyes, sensitized by hay fever, really canít do a lot of cloud watching. The glare, you know.

Wild flowers and weeds are played out, but have produced heavy seed heads, assuring their survival for another year. Now, the pollen-laden air infiltrates my nasal passages, initiating sudden onslaughts of sneezing. Messy business, this, and I head to the store to stock up on tissues. As the weeks pass, cool, crisp air settles in, but my inclination to inhale deeply must be stifled. Post-nasal drip makes for an irritated throat. My voice comes and goes unpredictably, and even trying to have a conversation brings on a fit of coughing so extreme it leaves me gagging. This impresses me enough to send me back to the store for antihistamines.

Weariness keeps me indoors, but life goes on for the rest of the world. Squirrels scamper about on daily scavenger hunts, filling their cheeks with provisions to store away for the coming months. Birds feed voraciously, building their strength for the rigid physical demands ahead. Hardy mums and late fall crops of pumpkin and squash benefit from the rains of late September. Their colors explode against the deep green grass and the rich brown soil. My head, too, feels as if it will explode with every passing weather system.

Day by day, autumn progresses. Rabbits and deer fill out as they graze continuously, and their coats grow thick as the temperatures drop. My artistís soul eagerly anticipates rich scarlets, russets and golds, and by October the leaves have turned from a monotone pallet of greens, to a multihued display of spectacular colors. It lures me. It calls to me, and I cannot resist. I briefly emerge from my sanctuary, wishing I could absorb it all, for I know it is a fleeting masterpiece.

The welcome rain has fortified the trees against the coming winter, but now combines with the blustery wind to strip the foliage from the branches. The colorful leaves, which were once so appealing, now deteriorate into soggy mounds-a delightful breeding ground for mold. An occasional sunny day compels me to venture forth with my rake, but it isnít long before I feel myself deteriorating. Unseen mold spores are working their way into my lungs. Within minutes, my bronchioles respond by constricting, and I struggle to breathe. I have no choice but to use my inhaler, because gasping for air is not my favorite fall activity.

By November, the birds are congregating, noisily awaiting their departure for their distant winter homes. Nights become frigid. Early morning displays of hoarfrost on my windows are a special treat, not only because they are lovely, but because the onset of frost means the end of my suffering. The wonders of autumn will never stop amazing me, but the arrival of winter weather will always be a tremendous relief. Maybe I should reconsider those allergy shots.


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This article has been read 503 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bryan Ridenour09/03/09
I can definitely relate to the sinus problems. This was very well written and I especially like "grand finale of inspiring color." Nicely done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/03/09
Now I remember what there is I don't like about fall. You have some beautifully descriptive lines tucked away in here.
Allen Stark09/04/09
Living in the desert of southern California for so many years wouldn't allow me to relate, but now, here in the Midwest...yes, I can relate. Nice piece.
Laury Hubrich 09/04/09
This makes me so very thankful I don't have allergies. I like your touch of humor here even though you are so miserable;)
Lynda Schultz 09/04/09
Bummer to not be able to fully enjoy what you have so beautifully described.
Charla Diehl 09/04/09
Im feeling blessed not to have ever experienced your allergy symtoms. Fall is my favorite season, though in Arizona the burst of colors is not as spectacular as in other states.
I'm sorry for the MC, but you did a wonderful job of describing this gorgeous time of year.
Gregory Kane09/09/09
A satisfying read told from an unexpected angle. I wasn't too sure about your final sentence, but the rest was excellent
Karie McCaffity09/09/09
I can never look at Autumn the same way again. I do take my allergy meds, so that might be the difference in perspective. :)
Sherrie Coronas09/09/09
The MC's attempt to enjoy the season despite the suffering reveals such an optimist at heart. Made me really "feel" for this character and yet not be left "worried" about him/her. Good job of providing a relatively lighthearted account of an unfortunate condition.
Betty Castleberry09/09/09
Oh, poor MC (or is it really you?)

I don't envy the allergies, although I do enjoy the fall. I enjoyed the read.
Pamela Kliewer09/09/09
Love your descriptions! I like the positive attitude of your MC.
Mona Purvis09/09/09
Thorns on roses, isn't it?
Unique approach. Interesting.

Mona
Mariane Holbrook09/10/09
What a great piece of writing. You'll place high with this one! Kudos!