The Flavor of Fall

photographing fall

Beautiful fall in New England, 2012

Okay, I know I’m a couple of days early. And actually, it’s a pretty nice non-fall day in Portland today.

But I was in a good mood this morning, enjoying my drive, and Starbucks was singing it’s sweet, caffeine siren-song to me. Or Brandi Carlile was singing ‘Late Morning Lullaby,’ but either way I’m fairly certain that the subliminal message was “you need something more fun than coffee pot coffee this morning!”

I resisted for a while. I did pass by many a Starbucks (I’m sure it’s geographically impossible not to, no matter what direction one is traversing Portland). But the last one got me. And then I did something reckless and crazy.

It’s not that I always get the exact same coffee drink. Nor do I prefer Starbucks over others. I like to think I’m not that boring. Some of the time. But I usually have a few go-to drinks. I’m an Americano/black house coffee/short non-fat latte/maybe add some hazelnut type of girl. But… lately, I’ve felt like I was missing out on something.

Have I mentioned that I love fall?  Autumn. Harvest season. It’s cliché, But I don’t care. I’ve talked about it before, but that’s not going to stop me from telling you again. I love fall leaves, and crisp days, and Oktoberfest beers, and sweaters and boots and non-superfluous scarves. For the last few years however, I’ve been feeling the pressure. Convincing myself that I cannot be a true autumnal admirer without embracing the other signature fall accessory- the pumpkin spice latte.  According to most of my Facebook news feed, this beverage hails the coming of the season, and brings joy to all. Or at least all white women. And apparently I’m not the only one feeling left out. The vegans want in on it too.

So, I did it.  With no regard for judgement or reason, I got to the counter and ordered a tall, non-fat pumpkin spice latte.

Why is this weird, you might ask?

Because I don’t particularly like pumpkin. I despise pumpkin pie (I had a stomach flu over Thanksgiving when I was maybe 5, and the unpleasant association stuck).  I don’t mind other pumpkin-y things… I like carving pumpkins. Costco makes a pumpkin cheesecake that is frighteningly large and delicious. I’ve had pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that were pretty good. And Brick 29 makes a pumpkin bisque that is probably one of my all-time favorite soups. If you are anywhere near Idaho, you should go have some. Now. And send me some.

Anyway, the latte in question is supposed to be reminiscent of pumpkin pie. I know this. BUT I HAD TO.

And the story does not have a surprise happy ending.

Not impressed with the pumpkin spice latte.

Disappointment, you taste vaguely of pumpkin.

So, as much as I wanted to like my drink, nothing about it produced happy fall feelings. The flavor of “Fall in a Cup,” for me, will continue to mean a frosty glass with a lightly-hopped, malty German lager.

Did that stop me from drinking most of it? Nope.  Did I try cutting it with brewed coffee? Yep.  Was that a good idea? Not so much.

Lesson learned this morning: I can still enjoy fall with a nice black coffee, pretty sure I can still claim to be a white girl… I don’t have a lot of other options. When I was a kid I always wanted to mark ‘Native Alaskan’ on the bubble test forms, because I was born in Alaska. It seemed logical to me, but I was told that didn’t count. So maybe that means I get a new category to bubble in now? White/Caucasian who dislikes Pumpkin Spice. There must be others like me.

So this weekend, at the official autumnal equinox, I will gleefully put away my shorts and get out my boots. Oh how I’ve missed you, boots. And soon enough I will be out enjoying the foliage, and doing plenty of photography while crunching around in the leaves. And in this fantasy… the leaves will crunch.  There will not be a wet, gray blanket of rain hanging over the land. Wish me luck on that.

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~ by Lindsey on September 18, 2013.

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