This morning, I woke up and it was suddenly autumn. An evening storm cooled the air down to a crisp breeze, and my open windows let the chill drift beneath my blankets. I’ve never been so excited to shiver. Something felt different – special somehow – but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I noticed that today is basically a national holiday: pumpkin spice lattes are back! I immediately put on a beanie, flannel shirt, and leather boots, then skipped my way to the nearest Starbucks.
Here’s the thing: I know Starbucks isn’t the best. I am fully aware there’s no pumpkin in their lattes. I also understand that in lieu of pumpkin, they pump their flavored lattes with cancer-causing, questionable ingredients – but for the duration of this grande pumpkin spice latte I have in my hands, all bets are off. (After today, it’s back to my homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe, with real pumpkin).
So why did I spend $3.26 on a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks this morning?
Yes, this is about that first sip when the frothy whipped cream and a splash of spiced coffee hit my tongue for the first time – but it’s about so much more than that. This is a calculated symbolic gesture that I’ve participated in for years. It’s an annual milestone I feel compelled to complete. It marks the changing of seasons, the beginning of the best time of year (and not just because my birthday is getting closer).
This artificially flavored pumpkin beverage is a symbol of the beginning of bouldering season.
It’s a hint towards the changing colors of leaves.
It means I get to unearth my scarves, hats, and long socks from the depths of my closet.
Sadly, it also means that winter – my least favorite season – is also on the way. But we’ll ignore that for now, focusing instead on the beauty and glory that fall brings.
And so, I’ll continue to shamelessly indulge in this horrifyingly unhealthy pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks – because of what it means to me. And in a few hours, when my belly is aching from all the chemicals leaching into my body, I might feel the slightest tinge of regret, but the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming season will remain. (But seriously, go make your own pumpkin spice lattes. It’s not that hard.)