The beautifully produced ads for The Rite of Spring commemoration by Carolina Performing Arts get my attention every time I hear them.  As taken as I am with the story   behind the upcoming season, I am much more a “rites of autumn” person.

Though it will be a while before I enjoy that first touch of crispness in the air, I still get a thrill from the seasonal school supplies in stores and the first apples coming on the heels of peaches.  I appreciate the crackle of the fireplace more than the splash from the pool.

Living in Chapel Hill means there’s one seasonal marker more than any other that I relish: the awakening of campus.  Yes, there’s more traffic and it’s more difficult to park.  Yes, lines are longer at grocery stores and I have to wait a few more days when I decide in a panic that it’s time for a haircut (if you know me, I’ll pause here for your laughter).  

But those inconveniences are far outweighed for me by the sizzle of energy brought back by thousands of busy people, each one here for a reason important to him or her.  It is that sense of purpose, seemingly united by the calendar but as individual as each dream and ambition, that lights up fall for me.  

My personal delights aside, this is a welcome sign even the most grouchy curmudgeon should post.  For it is the university and all of its traffic and all of its students with all of their parking that is the bulwark of our economy.  Though all is not rosy in our local economy, we are faring so much better than many and the stabilizing behemoth colored in light blue is much of the reason why.  

Aside from the university’s deep, systemic roots in our economy, let’s celebrate and appreciate the return of UNC students who buy meals, books, haircuts, clothes, etc. from our local businesses.  

While we’re celebrating, a small detour here to thank the organizers, participants, and attendees of WCHL’s food truck rodeo last week.  Food trucks have been controversial in Chapel Hill because of the fear they take business from restaurants.  Had I not been there last Thursday, I would have been at home, not a restaurant.  Instead I spent money in town, like the thousands of others who gathered at the rodeo.  An added plus?  I saw lots of friends and acquaintances while enjoying a beautiful evening.  

To torture the rodeo imagery, it’s too late to lock the barn door on food trucks, Chapel Hill. 

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