A change in season is marked by tree leaves turning color at Evergreen Cemetery in late September of 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

A change in season is marked by tree leaves turning color at Evergreen Cemetery in late September of 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Gimme a Smile: P.S. Autumn is here.

Ready or not, here it comes. The days are getting shorter, new snow keeps materializing on the mountaintops, and the scent of autumn leaves competes with dead fish on your favorite hiking trail. It’s officially fall!

Fall brings with it some iconic images. Well, would you look at that — they all begin with P.S.

Pumpkin Spice. It’s all pumpkin spice, all the time, from your morning latte to freezer waffles to luxurious shampoo that’s guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds all day long. If you look hard enough, you can probably find a pumpkin spice peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.

So, here’s the question: do pumpkin spice items really contain pumpkin, or are they merely flavored with the spices that make pumpkin pie so yummy? I sensed an opportunity for investigative journalism leading to an explosive exposé of the deceptive labeling practices of leading pumpkin spice merchants. Then I did a little research. Alas, there actually is pumpkin puree in a pumpkin spice latte. Nothing to see here.

PFD Sales. That exciting moment is coming, even better than Christmas, when the Permanent Fund Dividend check arrives in our bank accounts. Businesses are just as excited as the rest of us. They bring out amazing sales on the fond hope that your average Alaskan doesn’t need the yearly check to save for their kids’ college education or pay the bills that have been piling up since the last dividend. For those lucky individuals, good deals abound on things like airline tickets, exercise club discounts, and maybe even a great rate on a savings account so you can set up your own mini permanent fund.

Precipitation Sideways. Okay, so I had to twist my words a bit to describe the sideways rain that comes with fall in Juneau. You all know what I’m talking about. Once the kids go back to school and the fireweed goes to seed, the rain and wind take over until the mercury drops and it’s finally cold enough to snow instead. Forget the cute fall fashions—all you need is a good set of rain gear and a stomping pair of Xtratufs. Kids plan two Halloween costumes; one for the indoor party where they can dress up like a princess or a pirate complete with fancy headgear, and one for Trick-or-Treating that can be worn with a full-length slicker and a waterproof hood.

Pick Six. Football season is in full swing, and one of the swingiest moves in the game is the Pick Six, where the defense intercepts a forward pass and runs all the way to the endzone for a touchdown. When it’s raining sideways all week, you can settle down on the couch with your Terrible Towel for some marathon football on Sunday, Monday and Thursday, with college games squeezed in around the edges. Anyone for nachos and pumpkin spice beer?

Persistent Streaming. Along with the football games, there are endless opportunities for a couch potato to slouch through the monsoon season without ever getting their feet wet. Numerous streaming platforms compete for your business, even without offering PFD sales. You might want to limit yourself to just one or two to cut down on the cost, but then you find that your favorite shows are evenly distributed between five or six different platforms. Collect them all!

I’m trying to refrain from launching into a “back in the day” diatribe. Nope — I can’t resist. Back when I was a kid there were three networks, along with the one local station and of course PBS. I count five, total. We didn’t have to pay anything to watch beyond the startup cost of our black-and-white TV with its stylish bunny ears antenna on top. No buffering, no monthly subscriptions, and not much in the way of choice. Plus, we got our exercise whenever we had to get up off the couch to change the channel and adjust the bunny ears. We had it tough.

So, snuggle up on your couch with a warm pumpkin spice drink, listen to the rain pelting the windows, and dream about spending your PFD money on a new streaming service so you can watch all the football games on TV.

P.S. It’s fall!

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother, and author who writes cozy mysteries under the pen name “Greta McKennan.” She likes to look at the bright side of life.

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