1. Mellencamp formations

Whether the first crisp fall breeze summons feather-haired Mellencamp impressionists or vice versa, autumn goes hand-in-hand with large organized groups of John Cougar Mellencamp. These can range from Mellencamp pyramids in Times Square to Mellencamp phalanxes in Central Park, but every time I come by these formations I am reminded of the human pinwheel I escaped when I was four.

  1. When the subways converge on the night of the harvest moon

Sometime during the third week of September, the harvest moon lines up over specific coordinates in New York, where all New York subway trains reroute in order to converge upon the annual Grand Coven. No one knows why the subways do this, year after year, but the practice has been found to exist far before the first humans walked North America. This year it’s happening under a Dunkin Donuts in Williamsburg that is full of adults resembling the one I disguised myself as at age seven.

  1. People who are obviously in a witness protection program

No doubt about it, Fall is witness protection season. I know the shifty look of a false identity when I see one. It’s tricky at first but once you know what you’re looking for it becomes obvious. A man in a long black coat, bowler hat, and mustache, diving immediately into a pile of leaves at the sight of pinstriped mafia gangs? This is the telltale sign of three children stacked on top of each other, disguised as one adult man. I remember spending long hours debating with my fellow children which position was the hardest: feet, midsection, or face. I was never face.

  1. Feeding the Toad King

This is my darkest secret. You might be wondering, how exactly did I break free of a giant spinning wheel comprised of hundreds of humans chanting the words, “give me da money I want da money”? It was there, in a continuously spinning world, that the Toad King came to me in a vision. I can never speak the words he told me that I then recited, but for those twelve syllables, I am forever indebted to the Toad King. It’s been three years since I broke free from the wheel. I hear it’s rolling through Kansas now. Anyways, every fall equinox I drop a sea bass into the gutter so the Toad King can feast. It’s the least I could do.

  1. Apple Pie

I love a fresh apple pie! It’s all I ever eat in the fall. The toasty scent of apple, cinnamon, and sugar fills me with a sense of warmth and euphoria like no other food. It reminds me of tradition, and family, and how the image of the Toad King appears on everything I eat and feeling peaceful, and being thankful (for the Toad King to whom I owe the ability to move as an individual as opposed to being in a mechanical human spinning wheel).