Hay: At least you’re not a Siberian Hamster

Fall as in “autumn,” not going “a-over-t” down the stairs.

Ahhh, fall. I like fall. I also don’t like fall. Fall as in “autumn,” not going “a-over-t” down the stairs. I’m always on the fall fence as it were on account of this colorful season can be a world of glorious mellifluousness or a time of soul-aching melancholy. Or both at the very same time. No wonder I’m occasionally/often/always confused.

So as I am wont to do when everything is in a state of mellifluousness or melancholy or both – I simply sigh, put away my golf clubs and feel sorry for myself for some reason. (Other than the fact that winter is coming and I have to put away my golf clubs.) Then I also noodle around on the Interweb. I call this “research” and if Revenue Canada is reading this, the hours and hours I spend on the Internet are totally tax deductible for a freelance writer an account of I mentioned it in this column.

But here’s the thing: there are many fascinating, frivolous and focal facts about fall that I found by fooling around online, um, I mean, doing tax deductible research on the world wide web.

For example: did you know that decreasing daylight in the fall somehow “triggers higher levels of testosterone in both men and women”. Scientists point out that it’s no coincidence that in nature, fall is “rutting season”. (No wonder some people feel like they’re in a rut this time of year.)

And in a related fact, it’s been found that “autumn babies” (those born between September and November) are “more likely to live to 100 than those who were born in other times of the year.” At least that’s good news for my Rotten Kid, the daughter one.

In yet another related finding the journal Perception ran a study that found that men think women are more attractive in the cooler season. Of course they do – it’s the increased levels of fall testosterone!

Also, researchers have found that during the cooler months of autumn, “men are more likely to cozy up with their sweethearts and watch romantic comedies”. Apparently experts say this has less to do with high testosterone and more to do with the fact that “feeling cold activates a yearning for warmth and comfort with others.” The burning question is, however: who are these “experts” and who pays them to research romantic comedies?

And furthermore, scientists report that every fall “the male Siberian hamster’s testes swell up to 17 times bigger than normal to prepare for mating”. Now THAT’S a fact worth keeping in your back pocket. Also, my male friends: aren’t you very glad you aren’t a Siberian hamster?

And speaking of swelling up, it’s been proven that people turn to a tendency for fattier foods in the fall, which leads to what medical people call “seasonal weight gain”. We regular humans like to call it “stocking up for winter”.

And speaking of being depressed about seasonal and every other kind of weight gain, there’s that good old “Autumnal depression” or “seasonal affective disorder (SAD)” that affects up to 20% of the population this time of year. I have my own acronym for the fall blues: “BABLAF” – “bummer all the beautiful leaves are falling” and BABLAF is no laughing matter.

But it’s not all bad news for the season of the disappearing hues. There’s the study that shows that heart attacks and accidents decrease the Monday after daylight saving time ends. Which is in the fall. And there is a superstition (apparently) that catching leaves in autumn brings good luck – that every leaf caught means a lucky month next year.

And then there’s the fascinating factoid that people who live on the equator or central area of the planet “never experience autumn”.

So we can either head outside and catch every darn leaf you can before we find ourselves catching snowflakes instead, or we can head to the equator every fall.

But we’ll have to get in line. Because I’m pretty sure every single male Siberian hamster drags himself to the equator every single autumn.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.