In college, every October we would have a four-day weekend known as Fall Break. Maybe the administrators felt bad about having Spring Break with no corresponding respite in the fall, or maybe they thought that from late August to Thanksgiving was too long to go without any downtime. Whatever their reasoning, no one questioned Fall Break. It was a chance to flee campus for a few days, to exhale the air of lecture halls and inhale the changing of the seasons.
I’m bringing Fall Break back.
My parents arrive in Albuquerque later today, and I’ve taken a week off from work for the occasion. A full, glorious, week!
Usually when they visit, it’s in the summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and we always have a lovely time, but this time of year in Albuquerque…ahhhh.
If you ask any resident of Albuquerque, “What’s the best time of year to visit?” the answer will likely be October. The main reason for that is simple enough: Balloon Fiesta. And Balloon Fiesta IS a huge deal, frankly because it’s bona fide awesome. I’ve seen the most jaded people I know get downright gushy when it comes to Fiesta. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer watching balloons fill the sky from afar, or whether you like being down in the thick of the action with a camera in one hand and a breakfast burrito in the other. It’s an event definitely worth checking out.
Balloon Fiesta is great. But it’s hardly the only reason October is loved in this town. October brings the real and true arrival of fall weather. Needing a jacket in the morning but shedding it in the afternoon? Delightful! The smell of roasting green chile lingers in the air, and the changing leaves on the east side of the Sandias and along the Bosque are enough to make you forget you’re in the desert. October means visits to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch, and a fluttering among the local running community courtesy of the Duke City Marathon.
My mind is spinning with ideas for things to do with my folks, and I know we’ll have all kinds of cool adventures. We’ll probably go hiking — and not, ahem, have to worry about overheating or starting out early enough to beat the heat! Maybe we’ll get some freshly-roasted green chiles and have them with supper. And we most certainly will get up in the dark hours of the morning, all of us clutching nuclear-strength coffee, to get a look at those hot air balloons.
But I’m also going to relish the unfolding of one of my favorite months. I’m going to take in and remember the look on my parents’ faces when they see the Dawn Patrol balloons all light up at the same time. I’m going to savor the feeling of long sleeves on my arms when I go out for morning runs. I’m going to indulge in a Pumpkin Spice Latte or two…and who am I kidding; I’ll probably indulge in a few yummy pumpkin-flavored beers as well (does anyone have a favorite to recommend?).
The seasons are changing. The air has shrugged off its summertime weight and replaced it with a new vigor. Take some time to breathe it in.