Mysa. Photo by Holly Peterson
Fall was my favorite season all through childhood. I loved loading up on new school supplies, crunching through piles of leaves, and walking into the warm embrace of my childhood home after a long evening of playing in the chilled fall air. There was nothing not to love about fall. Of course, my October birthday didn’t hurt any. Whose favorite season isn’t birthday season?
But as I got older, fall felt less like its own season and more like the harbinger of winter. Fall became the realization that not only had I not spent enough time at the lake that summer, I had also entered yet another hibernation season with no one to hibernate with. As an asexual with panromantic tendencies and literally no patience for people who think they can convince me out of my asexuality, fall can be frustrating. That flickering romantic piece of my psyche sees hand-holding getting less sweaty and wonders if it’s time to get a bigger blanket and share it.
But something about the dumpster fire that is 2020 has recalibrated my love of fall while completely obliterating any associated romantic FOMO. At a point in time where the world feels like it has stepped off a cliff and entered a terrifying free-fall, gosh knows that we need to indulge in simple pleasures wherever we can find them.
And it turns out that fall is chock full of simple pleasures.
It’s the little things, like going on countless walks and snapping countless photos of leaves that continue to take my breath away. It’s the medium things, like spending an afternoon with my mom trying to pick all the apples off of the tree in her backyard. It’s the big things, like the (mostly) unplugged writer’s weekend in Northern Minnesota that I gave myself as a birthday present.
Truth is, it is possible to cozy into the season without another human there beside you. I mean, it definitely helps that in the 2020 scheme of things, what any of us should be doing is a giant question mark to begin with. Sure, there’s the obvious “Donate, Protest, Volunteer, Cry” cycle that a lot of us got trapped in, but that’s not sustainable, so why not lean into those little, medium, and big things that re-equip us and remind us that there are still some nice things around?
There’s a Swedish verb, mysa (mee-sah), that has resonated hard with me this season. Mysa is the action of doing something that makes you feel cozy and comfortable, like drinking a latte in a coffee shop or bundling up in your favorite flannel and jean jacket combo. It is precisely this feeling that I have rediscovered this fall, so it is not surprising that when I adopted a cat a couple weeks ago, I named her Mysa.
Mysa lives up to her name. Her eyes are like tropical oceans and her coat is sleek, soft, and perfect. I’m hoping to turn her into an Adventure Cat, but considering that her current reaction to a harness is to lay down and stare at me, for now we’re settling on lots and lots of belly rubs. She loves sitting on laps, rubbing her face against anyone she thinks might give her attention, and is one of those rare cats that will let you rub her belly until you get bored instead of the other way around. She is truly mysa in cat-form.
General catastrophe of 2020 aside, I’m glad that I’ve rediscovered the cozy perfection of fall. I have spent hours in the kitchen making fall staples like applesauce and butternut squash soup. I have taken walks and bike rides as frequently as possible, enjoying the leaves as they transitioned from green to red to gold to brown. I have spent evenings curled up under soft blankets with a mug of tea in one hand and a book in the other. And, of course, Mysa has been there beside me, reminding me that we can get cozy on our own terms and when we do, we’ll be ready to take the next day by storm.