The fourth quarter has begun, and you know what that means. The leaves have turned, the temperature has dropped, and the sweaters have returned from summering in Rubbermaid. And… quarterly real estate taxes are due! Like a visiting relative with perplexing dietary needs or a carpool duty you’ll never escape, it’s an event you expected—but that doesn’t make it any easier once it arrives.
Fortunately it’s different in Q4. Because October means everything in your life, including your real estate taxes, are pumpkin spice flavored. Which makes everything happier. When you slice open the dreaded envelope, the sudden fragrance of fresh baked pumpkin pie and cinnamon emits, and you write the check happily, skipping to the mailbox to unite it with its US Postal brethren.
Yes: On the eighth day, God created pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice makes everything nice, even the midterm elections, normally such a divisive affair. Opponents from every party will line up joyfully outside Pennsylvania Avenue and Westford Street, exchanging knowing glances of autumnal olfactory delight. It smells like childhood, or optimism, or both.
If you’re going for your COVID booster, or not, or getting ready to assail those who are, or aren’t, you’ll notice this time it’s different, because all the facilities, from CVS to your doctor’s office, smell like the holiday section of HomeGoods the morning after Labor Day. And the vaccine will be deep orange, the color of hope despite history. It’s impossible to question anyone else’s personal healthcare decisions under the woozy whiff of pumpkin spice. And so it should be.
In a typical month, your middle schooler just won’t put her phone down, and you just can’t stop nagging her to. But AT&T, Verizon, Xfinity, and even T-Mobile and that weird carrier your grandparents have are in on the secret; the aroma of America’s favorite gourd wafting from everyone’s cell phone is enough to douse all intergenerational communication breakdowns and explosions. Privacy and data mining issues aside, pumpkin spice geo-targeting is a welcome distraction every October.
Last week our country (or some of it) celebrated (or resented) Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day or just Uncomfortable Monday with A Past. No matter which your school district or Head of HR chose for you, trust me when I tell you it was better because of pumpkin spice.
The search for a new police chief, the planning of the 6th grade spaghetti supper, the 8th time in one day you drive your kid and four friends to Concord and back, any whiff of tension between Selectmen and meeting minutes, abutters and the Zoning Board, climate change, the outrageous cost of a new mattress, School Committee disagreements—all become harmonious and lovely and warm and fuzzy with a little pumpkin spice. And so it should be.
There are those who would deny New England’s whimsical squash its due. Some people just don’t like pumpkin spice coffee / candles / deodorant / socks / beef / dental floss / labradoodles / soccer / wine / recliners. That’s ok. It’s only a month. They’ll get over it.
Winter is coming, and the cold and odorless season will soon be upon them. Until then, let us all inhale deeply. Together.