This morning as I waited to cross the street to my office I tilted my head back to enjoy the cool breeze and the light drizzle. The sky was overcast, some might say gloomy. But I reveled in the brisk, crisp air and the clean scent of imminent rain. The feeling made me think about what “brisk” means and why we sometimes use it to describe weather.
The online Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines it four different ways:
1 quick and full of energy:
a brisk walk
They set off at a brisk pace.
2 quick, practical and showing that you want to get things done quickly:
Her tone of voice is brisk.
3 trade or business that is brisk is very busy, with a lot of products being sold:
The public bar was already doing a brisk trade.
4 weather that is brisk is cold and clear
Hmm. I don’t think of brisk as cold. Cold makes me uncomfortable, but I enjoy brisk. It’s refreshing, even energizing. More like the first definition they used. So I looked further and Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary had this to say:
1: keenly alert : lively
2a : pleasingly tangy <brisk tea>
b : fresh, invigorating <brisk weather>
3: sharp in tone or manner
4a : energetic, quick <a brisk pace>
b : marked by much activity <business was brisk>
Ahh, much better. Fresh! Invigorating! That my friends is what brisk means to me. Fall, or Autumn if you prefer, is the epitome of brisk. Crisp apples, crunchy leaves, beautiful colors.
In fact, back in 2002 I wrote this poem about it:
Fall is not my favorite season.
At least that’s what I tell myself as
I dig out sweaters, scarves, mittens and caps,
making ready for the wild weather to come.
But as the air cools and the days grow short,
I know I’m a liar.
Fall is when I walk instead of ride to the store:
crunchy leaves of topaz and ruby carpet my path.
Crisp, tart apples fill my shopping bag,
along with sweet and sticky caramel cubes.
Tonight the apples will swirl in melted candy,
then march in formation across waxed paper.
And I will linger near dancing flames,
cupping a mug of hot cider and
sinking into my latest mystery novel.
As content as a baby newly fed, or
my ancient, tubby cat, curled in my lap.
There now. Don’t you feel better about fall?
(Psst: you aren’t supposed to be thinking about all those leaves needing to be raked! Just sayin’.)