Let’s Have a Nora Ephron Autumn

Grab your chunkiest sweater and meet me in the nearest independent bookstore.

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address,” writes Joe (Tom Hanks) to his pen pal, Kathleen (Meg Ryan) in “You’ve Got Mail,” the 1998 Nora Ephron romantic comedy.

Nora Ephron, the Jewish writer, was famous for many things, not limited to her movies and her essays. When you think of a Nora Ephron film, it’s hard not to conjure up New York City in the autumn. While her films beautifully depict other seasons, it’s fall where she shines.

Well, hot vax summer is officially over (if it ever really happened), and as a Jewish culture site, we’re not about to partake in Christian Girl Autumn. So I propose we participate in a new season tradition: Nora Ephron Autumn.

I want romance in bookstores. I want chunky knits. I want long walks filled with good conversation. I want to lunch with my friends outside in the crisp, cool air. And nowhere are all these feelings encapsulated better than in the Nora Ephron Cinematic Universe. The NECU, if you will.

When Harry Met Sally
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal pose for the movie “When Harry Met Sally” circa 1989. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The first shot of Ephron’s iconic 1998 film “You’ve Got Mail” transitions from the cheesy graphics to a street in autumn New York City — you can feel the breeze, see the orange leaves shake, and see the warm glow of a lamp inside one of the buildings. The camera then zooms in through a window into Kathleen’s bedroom, and the movie begins. But you know: it’s autumn.

In the 1989 classic “When Harry Met Sally,” when Harry and Sally re-connect for the third time — after Harry is divorced and Sally and Joe have broken up — they stroll through Central Park. Colorful leaves and light jackets abound, and you can sense that there is something like magic in the air. There’s a warmth in Nora Ephron’s autumn, a coziness I’d like to wrap myself up in.

Or take 1993’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” which gave us eating-in-bed-while-wearing-the-coziest-looking-groutfit goals we’re still trying to achieve:

As director Jonah Feingold explained to Alma about his new rom-com “Dating & New York,” they were going for a “turtleneck vibe, knit sweater vibe. I think Nora Ephron invented that, and we are so lucky that she did.”

Nora herself could often be seen in a turtleneck or with a scarf wrapped around her neck, embodying the vibe that she created with her films.

As the air officially chills in New York and pumpkins start to fill up stoops, I am ready to embrace this year’s Nora Ephron Autumn. And I’m not alone in feeling this way.

So grab your chunkiest sweater and join me, won’t you? It’s what Nora would have wanted.

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