Friday Night Lights

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When the cricket-songs take on a frenetic energy, the goldenrod forgets it’s a weed and blazes with amber pride, and the night air starts to crisp up, I know it’s not long until the feeling arrives. I’m not sure if “nostalgia” is the right word for the feeling that comes with the advent of fall, but it’s a pretty accurate way to describe the wistfulness the season brings. And even after being out of school for so many years, the changes in nature remind me of the start of a new school year and all the associated activities, like football.

One of the highlights of my young years was being a football cheerleader. At first I didn’t really understand the rules. (Why we were chanting “first and ten, do it again”? Isn’t it bad to keep starting over?) I ended not only with an understanding of the game, but also a life-long love of it.

And while our games might have lacked the drama and excitement of Friday Night Lights, we did have something those beautiful folks in Texas missed out on:  freezing off our butts while cheering on the home team. The sport simply cannot be truly experienced without sitting on rock-hard, ice-cold bleachers, the wind whipping the fallen leaves into swirls around your head while your toes slowly grow numb.

How simply wonderful was it on those long-ago nights to have the comfort of a steaming Styrofoam cup of hot chocolate to look forward to when the game was over?  The first few sips always burned the tongue but it was the perfect temperature by the bottom of the cup where lots of unmixed chocolate-y goodness was left with a few hard mini-marshmallows.

I still love to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly fall night.  Now that I’m older though, I prefer a little cayenne pepper mixed in rather than marshmallows, or if I’m really feeling daring, some peppermint schnapps. And I still love football, although I’ve found that it’s just as fun to watch it in HD from the comfort of a warm squishy couch.