On Sept. 22nd at 1:21 was the Autumnal Equinox, with 12 hours of dark and 12 of light. Time to give up on the ice-cold drinks and start putting Pumpkin Spice in everything. That is the true test of Fall. Looking back, the weather guys have stated that this was the warmest summer on record, competing with a tie from 1936, the original Dust Bowl. But now the weather is getting a chill. When I woke up this morning, both black cats were on either side of me and the dog’s head was pinning my feet down. Getting up to use the restroom looked like a fuzzy game of “Twister.”

But I love New Mexico’s fall, the smell of green chile roasting, and the wondrous painted aspens, leaves with one side silver the other side yellow, crowning and adorning the mountains. In Fourth of July Canyon there are Rock Mountain Maples with red, orange, and purple foliage. To get a fantastic look at our autumn, take a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. You see Chama, New Mexico, Carson National Forest and end up in Antonito, Colorado. If you need a quicker fix, the Sandia Park Tram is a perfect way of seeing the colors in New Mexico. Warning: If you get airsick, don’t go!

The lineup of exceptional events coming soon is such a welcome change from last Fall. The State Fair, now over, while not holding the youth livestock auction this year, did its best to include the grease, salt and sugar which is why we go. The exhibits are best seen with something fried to hold. Vaccinated customers found the thin crowds were, to quote Goldilocks, “Just right.” Those who saw Zozobra in Santa Fe agreed., going home worry-free after Old Man Gloom took it with him in a glorious blaze.

We are days away from the 49th International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. I saw the first Balloon Fiesta. It was the year I began teaching at Hayes Junior High, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. My classroom was on the west side with huge windows. We were just starting to take a test in February and one kid yelled, “Miss Ramsden, look at the cloud. It’s coming up from the ground.” The test became an afterthought as we all rushed to the windows. Yes, yes, either aliens or angels were arising from the area of Winrock. Just a few. Maybe eight hot air balloons rose in the sky, but school, in my room, was over. That year they held one in February and one in October. The second one was equally wonderful. They were lollipops in the sky.

When I was young, in Iowa, we smelled burning leaves and prepared for Halloween in October. I mostly wore a snow suit under my costumes. We had hot chocolate, popcorn and apples. We have Halloween and we celebrate Dia de los Muertos now. Taking place Nov. 2, we celebrate with respect, love and honor for our ancestors. Altars decorated with sugar skulls and sweet bread are filled with photos, candles, and flowers. Marigolds are the favorite flower as they draw out these who love the color and sweetness. Sugar skulls are painted, as are masks.

The Marigold Parade in the South Valley is held the first Sunday in November. Mariachis can not be beat! An artist and political activist named Jose Guadalupe Posada, who lived from 1852 to 1913, invented the Doña Calavera Catrina. His use of skulls in cartoon satire was to show, rich or poor, we all go the same way. As the leaves and flowers all wither and pass, we know after Autumn, there is Christmas, Chanukah, and many other wonderful ways to celebrate. But for now, I’m looking for a cat costume. Roaring Mouse out.