Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 12, 2024

A Floridian’s perspective on fall

By MOLLY GAHAGEN | November 9, 2023

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COURTESY OF MOLLY GAHAGEN

Gahagen shares how growing up in the subtropics influenced her love of fall in Baltimore.

Coming from South Florida, I grew up experiencing an endless summer, punctuated by the winter ‘cold fronts’ every few years that would bring temperatures down into the 60s. Every day, the weather was warm, the air was humid and the sun was bright. Fall was no different, distinguished from the rest of the year only as being the second half of hurricane season and the tail end of the wet season.

Despite never really experiencing fall during my childhood, it has always been my favorite season. Marking the start of the academic year and the prelude to the holiday season, fall feels like new beginnings to me. This may seem counterintuitive, considering fall is when most people begin to anticipate the calendar year wrapping up, but there is something about it that has always felt fresh and exciting to me.

Coming to Hopkins, one of the things I looked forward to the most was experiencing my first real fall. I wanted nothing more than to see the leaves change and to have a practical reason to wear a sweater. Finally, one morning in September 2021, a chill crept into the morning air. I distinctly remember my excitement that day as I walked to class wearing a cardigan and listening to Taylor Swift’s Red album (the definitive fall album — I’ll accept no other opinions). 

Fall crept in slowly, the warm, sunny afternoons bracketed by the morning and evening chill. Then, after a few weeks, the season settled in for good, ushering in consistently cool temperatures. I remember thinking about how all-encompassing fall felt. It was a season with distinct sensory components, and even my daily walk to class began to feel exciting, as I got to witness how the leaves changed from day to day.

As I came to learn, the only downside to fall is its brevity: It seems that it is the shortest season, with only a few perfect weeks between the heat of the summer and the cold dampness of winter. Perhaps this is a subjective experience, considering I look forward to this time all year long, but fall always feels fleeting. The days grow shorter quickly, and the leaves disappear seemingly before your eyes. 

Rather than feeling discouraged, this makes me endeavor to savor it and make the most of it before I am forced indoors to avoid the cold (not to mention hunkering down for finals season). During the short time when fall is at its peak, I try to spend some time outside every day, whether it’s reading on the quads or walking through the tree-lined streets of the Guilford neighborhood. I make a movie watchlist and bake my favorite recipes — Taylor Swift’s chai sugar cookies are a must!

Even though this will be my third fall in Baltimore, I must confess it is just as invigorating to me as the first. There is nothing better than weather cool enough to drink hot coffee, getting out my favorite sweaters, buying cinnamon pastries at the farmer’s market, rewatching When Harry Met Sally... and hanging up my annual cinnamon broom. Perhaps I’m overenthusiastic about fall, but it is still a relatively new experience to me, and I am determined to make the most of it.


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