I prefer autumn
Fall is such a glass-half-empty word, isn’t it? Falling down, falling apart, falling out; couldn’t we go back to ancient times when it was called harvest or autumn? It is really only North Americans who have adopted “fall” as their preferred terminology for this most majestic and glorious of all seasons.
Taken from a Latin word meaning harvest, autumn is a word that conveys a sense of abundance and success, symbolized by a cornucopia; a horn overflowing with flowers, fruit, and grain.
But that dreaded “fall” word keeps rearing its ugly head. Starting in early August with the “Back to school” sales, we are reminded of the impending fall at every turn. It is still as capable of churning my stomach now as it did when I was a student: no more sleeping in; no more days without schedule; no more trips to the beach.
Fall; it was all over, finished, the end.
Mixed in with the dread of having to get up every morning to face tests and assignments, was also that dream of new possibilities; maybe this would be my year, the year I’d excel at all subjects, get picked for the girls’ (anything) team, become one of the popular girls.
It meant a new set of pencil crayons, and a new Barbie pencil case. Perhaps a new girl had moved to my school who would become my life-long bosom buddy or a new teacher who might not find my habit of talking incessantly in class such a big issue. Some people feel sorry for the kids who change schools often, but I envied them. They could start every year totally fresh; become anyone they wanted.
But, invariably, as October rolled around, you were the same person with OK grades, two-left feet when it came to sports, still the one wearing shapeless dresses with mended black—or even worse, “flesh” coloured— leotards, and lace-up Hush Puppies, while the others sported floral printed mini-skits with matching poor-boy sweaters and tights, finished off with penny loafers.
Vicariously, I lived through my own sons’ experiences as they went through their school years, empathizing with their angst when getting lousy schedules and the most fearsome teachers. It meant shopping for just the right school supplies as each teacher seemed to have their own specific requirements for binders, paper, and even the colour of pen used in their class. Fall meant dental appointments, the start-up of PTA and music lessons and indoor soccer, not to forget that all-important and stressful issue of planning the perfect Halloween costume, one that would likely require hours of sewing. It also meant a return to never getting a seat on the bus on the way to work and, in the city, traffic jams.
I always got through that first few weeks by thinking about autumn, a word that never fails to invoke the beauty of lush colours: aubergine, Indian reds and oranges, russets and golds. It is the colour of ripe apples, pumpkins, and falling maple leaves. (Whoops!)
Autumn is turtle neck sweaters and knee socks; apple crisp and Red River cereal. It’s my mom making chili sauce from the quarts of tomatoes we would buy from the roadside vendors and crock pickles that I can still recall the aroma of. After a summer of hotdogs and hamburgers, it meant a time of roast beef dinners and meatloaf with macaroni and cheese. A time to move indoors, back to more formal dinners, at more regulated times. Even now, it’s time to start moving inside for Jordan and I. Time to catch up on movies, eat supper at the kitchen table rather than from our laps on the patio, and enjoying the hot tub again.
Some people like summer to go on and on, but I know that autumn is my time of year. I seem to find more energy to complete home tasks. I guess, like the squirrels, we are all getting our nests ready for the winter.
It is an invigorating time of year; crisp air and finally some much needed rain. It is a time to start new projects or pick-up projects that lay dormant over the hot days of summer. Knitting and canning, refinishing an old chair, or perhaps, if you are lucky, finding an old refrigerator that is begging to be painted a delicious red. Autumn is my spring.
I find myself with a sudden desire to thumb through a Sear’s catalogue. I recall the evenings Mom and I would sit and pick out the material to make new school dresses for me and my sister, praying that for once I could pick something not quite so geeky. (Hope springs eternal!)
Although I believe we should officially adopt “autumn” as our word for the next 3 months, there are some obvious problems with dropping the word “fall” entirely. Off the top of my head, I can think of several instances where autumn doesn’t work. Autumn fair just doesn’t roll off the tongue like fall fair, and Sear’s Autumn and Winter catalogue sounds weird. How about, “Spring forward, autumn back?”
Autumn brings with it so many mixed emotions: my own schooldays; my sons’ schooldays; remembering old school chums. I feel so fortunate to live in a place where, as I approach the autumn of my life, I can take sun-dappled walks through forests of golden, falling leaves. (OK, I realize that I am getting a tad maudlin here, but I am just trying to wrap this up poetically.)
I was recently asked what the
heck Harleys—or new pencil crayons, for that matter— have to
do with kitchens and cooking. Fair question. To get the
answer, you have to understand the evolution of this column.
Jordan started it about 10 years ago when he began to submit
the scripts from a radio cooking show he was doing called
The Food File. It was later pointed out that this seemed a
tad too computer-ish (the logo was a floppy disk) and as I
took over the writing, I found that “food” was too
constricting. My son Paddy and I thought about it and came
up with “An Island Kitchen” because “Rambling Thoughts and
Rants about Island Life in General with Some Food Facts
Thrown in” seemed too cumbersome. Think of “An Island
Kitchen” as a metaphor for how my brain operates. If you
have ever seen my kitchen; you will understand.