Autumn or Fall …or Harvest?

I always feel torn when naming this season. I usually call it Fall (and I capitalize it, even though I know it is “wrong”). The romantic in me prefers Autumn, but it also somehow feels like I’m trying too hard when I say Autumn, like saying tissues instead of Kleenex or EYE-ther instead of EE-ther (either). My very good friend Erin introduced me to this website: – which I think some of my aunts (Christine, Barbara?) might enjoy, too. Here are a few word histories for the season:

autumn (n.)
late 14c., autumpne (modern form from 16c.), from O.Fr. autumpne, automne (13c.), from L. autumnus (also auctumnus, perhaps influenced by auctus “increase”), of unknown origin. Perhaps from Etruscan, but Tucker suggests a meaning “drying-up season” and a root in *auq- (which would suggest the form in -c- was the original) and compares archaic English sere-month “August.”

Harvest was the English name for the season until autumn began to displace it 16c. In Britain, the season is popularly August through October; in U.S., September through November. Cf. It. autunno, Sp. otoño, Port. outono, all from the Latin word. Unlike the other three seasons, its names across the IE languages leave no evidence that there ever was a common word for it.

Many “autumn” words mean “end, end of summer,” or “harvest.” Cf. also Lith. ruduo “autumn,” from rudas “reddish,” in reference to leaves; O.Ir. fogamar, lit. “under-winter.”

fall (n.)
c.1200, “a falling;” see fall (n.). O.E. noun form, fealle, meant “snare, trap.” Sense of “autumn” (now only in U.S.) is 1660s, short for fall of the leaf (1540s). That of “cascade, waterfall” is from 1570s. Wrestling sense is from 1550s. Of a city under siege, etc., 1580s. Fall guy is from 1906.

harvest (n.)
O.E. hærfest “autumn, period between August and November,” from P.Gmc. *harbitas (cf. O.S. hervist, O.Fris., Du. herfst, Ger. Herbst “autumn,” O.N. haust “harvest”), from PIE *kerp- “to gather, pluck, harvest” (cf. Skt. krpana- “sword,” krpani “shears;” Gk. karpos “fruit,” karpizomai “make harvest of;” L. carpere “to cut, divide, pluck;” Lith. kerpu “cut;” M.Ir. cerbaim “cut”).

The borrowing of autumn and the use of fall in a seasonal sense gradually focused the meaning of harvest to “the time of gathering crops” (mid-13c.), then to the action itself and the product of the action (after c.1300). Figurative use by 1530s. Harvest home (1590s) is the occasion of bringing home the last of the harvest; harvest moon (1706) is that which is full within a fortnight of the autumnal equinox.

Stuff has been happening. My brother, Jesse, got married to the pretty girl, Katie, he once took to Senior Prom. The wedding reception was at Church’s Landing in Meredith, New Hampshire. Growing up at the lake, I had seen the grand hotel from the road (more specifically, from the backseat of my Mom’s Buick stationwagon), and from the water (more specifically, from aboard the Mt. Washington), but had never been inside. The lobby and ballroom were lit with chandeliers, the dark wood bar shined with polish and rich burgundy carpeting covered the floors. It felt strange at first to walk through, and out to the stormy water, as if I were an important, lavish person. Dressed in satin, no less.

But it was perfect for my brother’s wedding: the first wedding in our family – and my brother is pretty classy. Yes, I cried heaps during Katie and Jesse’s first dance, I cried while laughing at myself, but still. As the oldest sibling, I often feel maternal towards my brother and sisters (whether they like it or not!). Jesse and I were very close as kids, and as he danced with Kate I felt happy for that (the closeness), but a little mournful, too. I am also proud of him, for simply living his life, for keeping on. Of course there are many specific things he can be proud of: a college degree in Microbiology, a couple of swanky and impressive jobs, new financial investments, his vows to Kate, etc. But sometimes I think the specifics cloud the fact that this is a person, overcoming obstacles, and dealing with crap, and learning – as hopefully we all do; simply getting through and growing up from a silly, feckless kid to an adult is hard! (And emotional for mothers, fathers, and older sisters.)

“What is cowardice in the young is wisdom in the old, but all the same one can be ashamed of wisdom.” – Graham Green, “Two Gentle People.”

That is my sad, older sister quote for the day, from the book of short stories Andrew brought home.

Other, other stuff:

Mesa’s been jumping over our 5 (6?) foot fence and scraping her belly up. This girl really has no elegance. She made one new friend at the dog park, a Mr. Ruffles, who is a tiny Shih-tzu looking thing who (fortunately) likes to play rough. She made one other massive, furry dog cry just by looking at her.

Lupe is glad for the colder weather because it means he can wear sweaters and jackets again, heheheh. He also brought my shoe outside and pooped in it.

Amos is stubbornly persisting in being outside in the colder weather. I might have to construct some sort of cat house for him soon.

Puppy had some time off leash outside and was cornered by a mean neighborhood cat. Andrew rescued her.

Andrew went up to the mountains with a few friends to cut and split wood. He washed and polished his bike AND he ate an entire package of Oreos in 2 days.

Oh, and I still have no friends here and have still been spending most of my time watching murder mysteries (the last Wallander episode featured an archivist getting punched), and drinking tea with milk and sugar.

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