Is Fall Dead? – The New York Times


Daniel Arnold, a photographer known for capturing quirky moments on the street, waits all year for autumn to arrive.

“New York really hits its stride in the fall,” he said. “All year long you’re dealing with discomfort, and I feel like fall is the only time in New York where it’s steadily, predictably comfortable.”

Not this year, though. New Yorkers who view fall as fashion’s favorite season — denim jackets! boots! sweaters! — and rely on temperatures in the 60s and 70s to serve those looks have slogged through an unseasonably warm October. “Hotumn,” as some have taken to calling it.

“Unfortunately I keep dressing for the weather that I want, and I just keep getting sweaty all day because I am wearing layers and a hat, trying to summon the proper weather,” Mr. Arnold said.

So what is fall in New York without the crisp breeze?

Children try on new identities at New York Costumes.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

Sweater weather or not, it’s a time for new beginnings. It’s a brief respite from the tyranny of summer and before the severity of winter. If you’re the type of person who reads horoscopes, you’ll know that the beginning of Libra and Scorpio season signals transformation. But it’s usually plain to see: in the start of a new school year, the turning of the leaves, the return of beloved television shows and the sudden emergence of turtlenecks.

“There’s something about fall that I think becomes associated with rolling out this new version of yourself,” Mr. Arnold said. “It’s like an identity redefining time.”

This new identity can take on the form of a Halloween character. This year, Mr. Arnold noticed that more people were trying on politically themed costumes, like two children who put on Donald Trump and Melania Trump masks at a Halloween store in the East Village.

“Scandals, outrages and internet memes,” Mr. Arnold said of the themes of the costumes he saw. “I’m sure there will also be plenty of people who just cut two holes in a sheet.”

In Central Park, a Halal stand covered a horse-drawn carriage in a cloud of smoke.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times
It’s still warm enough for ice cream in Manhattan.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times
The weather has extended the life of open-toed shoes into October.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

Despite the warm weather, some fall rituals persist. Take the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade for example, where owners show off their outrageously costumed pets and spectators harvest content for Instagram. This year the temperature was 78 degrees, but that didn’t keep 500 dogs and nearly 25,000 spectators from showing up.

“The dog parade was really a hot dog parade,” Mr. Arnold said.

Looking sharp on a tractor at the Green Meadows Farm Petting Zoo in Queens.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times
Who is having more fun at the petting zoo: the children or the adults?CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times
A child gets into character at the Queens County Farm Museum’s pumpkin patch.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

It’s also a time for New Yorkers to escape the city and enjoy the nature of the larger metropolitan area, whether that means taking the train to the Hudson Valley to see the leaves change, apple picking in New Jersey or a day trip to the expansive grounds at Storm King Art Center.

Others know that you don’t have to leave the five boroughs to find events that celebrate the fall harvest. Through Sunday, at the Queens Country Farm, you can get lost in a winding corn maze, and you can pick pumpkins there (or pretend to be one) all season long.

Fleeing the Halloween-themed Bayville Scream Park in Bayville, N.Y.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times
Costume shopping, or selfie scouting?CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times
The corn maze at the Queens County Farm Museum is best approached with a buddy.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

But if you’re going to a corn maze, Mr. Arnold would not recommend going it alone.

“It’s maddening,” he said of the experience. “It messes with your head.”

Inside the maze, the photographer was drawn to this fellow traveler. “I have a soft spot for these things where people’s T-shirts are accidentally nailing the whole situation,” he said.

In the arcade at Bayville Scream Park.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times
In the East Village, every day is Halloween.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times
A man dressed as a kangaroo for the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, with his dog as his joey.CreditDaniel Arnold for The New York Times

For some adults, fall also marks the start of “cuffing season,” when people couple up in preparation for the winter months — whether with a partner, a puppy or even a slice of pizza.

“We become bowerbirds,” said Mr. Arnold. In case you missed David Attenborough’s BBC special, bowerbirds are creatures that create colorful nests to attract mates. “The instinct at this time of year is to find someone to get cozy with and to prepare yourself and your home and your body for this more vulnerable time.”

If it ever comes, that is.


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