The Chill in the Air

by Mark Jimenez

It happened today. I look forward to it every year, although I’m never quite sure when it will happen. After months of running in the heat with salt and sweat pouring out of my body, today was something different. Today there was magic and change in the air. I ran 7 beautiful miles and smiled the whole way.

Today was the first run after summer with the slight chill in the air that announces that fall is on the way.

I never know when it will happen, but it is always one of my favorite runs of the year.

It usually comes in September, although I’d say usually it comes later than this. I’m sure summer will have one last gasp left in it and send us a few more horrible days of heat and low temperatures in the upper 80s. But the tide is turning. Summer is slowly fading away and fall is coming.

The chill in the air is cleansing and refreshing. For too long I’ve run and the air that I’ve drawn into my lungs has been dry and hot, as if escaping from a furnace. It dried my mouth, my tongue, and my lungs. This morning as I stepped outside, my skin prickled with the chill in the air. The breath I drew in was crisp, calm, and cool. There was the slight smell in the air announcing the chill all around me. It was 25 degrees cooler this morning than it was yesterday morning. That’s a huge change for one day, but I welcome it.

For me, there’s something magical about the fall. In the summer, no matter what time I run, the whir of air conditioners fills the air. It is inescapable. The heat pushes you down and is endlessly oppressing. Fall, though, is cleansing. The a/c units shut off and the while the city is never truly quiet, you are able to hear other sounds. The rustling of a small animal as it hides from you while you run. The chirps of the morning birds as they wake up and look for their food. The coyotes yipping in the distance. Sound carries further when it isn’t drown out by the constant whir of thousands of a/c units.

While I enjoy the run in the first chill of the season, I can’t help but think I’m missing out on something. I always think of this silly cartoon I used to watch with my daughters when they were younger. Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost. It takes place in a small New England town during fall. The town is having a fall festival, and while I know it’s in a cartoon, I can’t help but feel jealous that Scooby and the gang get to partake in the Fall Festival. Scooby and Shaggy eat all the food, of course, only to be interrupted by the ghost of a witch. While the plot of the movie introduces lots of fall elements like ghosts and the Hex Girls (my twins loved the Hex Girls), it was always the seasonal fall elements of the movie that made me nostalgic for something I’ve never experienced.

That’s the one thing I always miss this time of year, although some might argue that I can’t miss what I’ve never had. Living in the desert, our fall season is short. We don’t have anything close to a fall or harvest festival. I want to go somewhere where I can gather with a group of people and enjoy the fall harvest. I want to drink warm apple cider while the air grows cool and crisp around me as the sun goes down. I want to sample all the local pies and carve pumpkins that grew in the soil around me. I want to stay up late telling stories and enjoy a good chili cook-off, or perhaps sample some local stews.

Every year when I get that first breath of cold air in my lungs as I go outside for a run I find myself wishing that I could experience a true fall harvest festival. I love living in Las Vegas, but I think this is the one thing we don’t have in the desert that my heart aches for the most.

2020 has been a very trying year, but running is constant. I’m looking forward to the brisk air in my morning runs, and the warm cup of coffee when I get home. One day I’ll make it to a real harvest festival. Who knows, I might even run into some meddling kids.