Ask people what their favorite season is, and a lot will say fall (or is it autumn?).

I’d have to agree. I’ve always considered autumn (or is it fall?) to be my favorite season. I enjoy the crisp, cool, clean air, and the unique beauty that landscapes take on.

To me, fall (or is it autumn?) is the “nicest” time of year, when the temperatures aren’t extreme and air masses, for the most part, lack excessive humidity. Basically, autumn (or is it fall?) is kind of like what Goldilocks felt about the third bowl of porridge in “The Story of The Three Bears”: it’s just right.

Or it can be, anyway. Sure, record lows and highs for fall (or is it autumn?) are pretty darn low and high, but the odds are usually good that readings will be far south of triple digits and north of single digits.

Doug Davison

But what’s up with a season having two names? I don’t know if I’d call it confusing, because the English language – in all its strangeness – has plenty of examples where more than one word exists to describe one thing. But I never really know what to call it – although I guess I use “fall” more often.

That problem doesn’t exist during three of the four seasons, but for about three months out of each year, we’re faced with the strange dilemma of more or less taking sides with one of the two camps in the ongoing battle of “name that season.”

And it’s not like the “Missour-ee” versus “Missour-uh” thing. Those are just variations on the pronunciation of a single word – we’re talking two entirely different words here.

I guess there’s something to be said for not taking sides and sort of waffling back and forth between the season’s two names (like many politicians do with pronouncing the Show Me State’s name). But for some reason, that doesn’t seem right either. I can’t put a finder on why – it just doesn’t.

With origins in both French and Latin languages, forms of the word “autumn” were probably used as early as the 12th century, but became common by the 16th century. Meanwhile, the word “fall” can be traced back to old Germanic language, and the term became widely used in England in the 1500s, as kind of a shortened version of “fall of a leaf” and one or two other “falling” phrases.

While fall eventually gave way to autumn in Britain, settlers in North America latched onto fall as the preferred moniker for the season, and it continues to be the more commonly used name in America today. But that doesn’t mean autumn is out completely. To the contrary, a version of it with a capital ‘A’ has even been among the top 100 names for new girls for about 15 years now.

And what of summer, winter and spring? Are we to believe they’re not worthy of having a second name?

Believe me, I’d have little trouble coming up with other names for them. For example, winter’s other title could be derived from whatever the Latin word for “ice” is, or we could just say “freeze,” as in a shortened version of “freeze of the toes” and other frozen phrases.

But maybe it would make more sense to have one name for each season instead of adding one to the three that now have only one apiece. After all, simplifying is still “in,” and less is more, right?

In any case, the season we’re in right now is what it is, and what it is is nice, no matter what you call it. It’s a great time to get out and ride a horse, wet a line, dig in the yard, paint an outbuilding, walk a dog (like a big ol’ Corgi), or just plain walk. You can do any of those things and be confident that after two minutes you won’t be drenched in sweat or have frost on your nose hair.

Now, I realize that some people have extremely short memories with regard to weather, so I just know that in a month or two when the temperature drops below 20 and snow flurries are in the forecast, I’m going to hear someone say, “well, looks like we went straight from summer to winter again.”

But let the record show here and now that whoever says that will be incorrect. We’re enjoying an elongated fall (or is it autumn?) this year, and we’ve had weeks and weeks of pleasant daytime temperatures and those perfect nights, when sleeping comfortably doesn’t require assistance from a machine that cools or heats the room.

As William Shakespeare wrote in his play “Romeo and Juliet”: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Fall or autumn – it’s pretty sweet. Especially this time around.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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Call it autumn, call it fall, but there’s something special about the season with two names.

To me, nothing beats the weather this time of year.  No excessive temperatures (on either end of the scale), low humidity, and breezes with that cool edge to them.

It’s the best time of the year to get outside and walk a dog, ride a horse, dig a hole or just sit around.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Animals seem to be in agreement with the notion that fall is a fine time to be alive.

Our big ol’ Pembroke Welsh corgi spent many weeks hiding from the heat monster not that long ago. Now he spends more time hanging out on the front porch or the walkway to the parking area, or trying out sections of lawn on varying sides of the house.

The horses seem more carefree about moving around their fenced acreage, after gingerly preserving every ounce of energy for so long.

I saw a group of baby buzzards the other day enjoying the blue skies while circling a nearby barn. Good to see that God’s clean-up crew has healthy new members.

And man, the two neighborhood coyote packs are obviously excited by the presence of fall. On several recent nights their song has been highly inspired, almost as if they purposely set up about a mile apart and then compete for audio supremacy.

With temperatures dipping quickly when the sun goes behind the ridge, fall nights are the absolute best for sitting by a nice fire burning in a rock fire pit. While doing just that the other night by our pit adjacent to the corral, I was reminded of how comfortable it is to sit by a fire when it’s 44 outside. I’ve tried it in the winter, too, and it’s OK, but when it’s 25 out your back tends to get cold as you sit facing the flame.

And on summer nights? Forget it – ice water please.

Outdoor chores seem far more enjoyable in the fall as well.

The heat from the riding mower engine isn’t as noticeable when reducing the back portion of the giant lawn to shoe-top level. And digging weeds where the garden used to be or using the steel rake to even out the driveway don’t cause anywhere near as much sweat.

Yep, fall.

It’s time to put up one last bale of hay.

It’s time to get in a few rounds before the fairways go dormant and the greens freeze up.

It’s a chance to fix that second floor window gable, and run that new gas line from the propane tank to the shop.

It’s an opportunity to do lots of groundwork with the new mare.

It’s time to go to that outdoor flea market and hit every yard sale within a 20-mile radius.

Time to paint the outbuilding.

Time to hang out the laundry.

Time to plant some bulbs.

And time to enjoy.

And who could ever tire of the colors on the Ozark hillsides this time of year? There are other places as pretty in the fall, but I’ve seen none prettier.

Of course, it won’t be long before weather forecasts included phrases like “wind chill factor” and words like “accumulation.” But for now, fall conditions rule and the time is right to be outdoors.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Now if only black walnuts would jump into buckets and bags on their own…

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.