I've been stranded in transition last week and this, as if I'm on an island and don't know how to get off. I'm resisting the flip-over, the journey to that next phase of the year, which I dread only next to the brown and grey of January and February.
I am comfortable in the warmth of September and October where much is still happening in the garden, and in the case of this year, it is faring better now than in the height of summer, this past one so dry and hot. To me September is the natural start of the year when much feels new and exciting.
This week is predicted to be sunny and mild, and I know it will be the last for months to come. It is the final call for garden chores. Potted plants need to come in, warmth and shelter must be provided for my fig tree and my beds should be cleared and readied for mulched leaves once we rake. If I want to create a new bed, it must be measured and laid out with newspaper and compost.
Instead, I go out, perhaps pull up a stalk of something, and say that I can't do more yet. There are still blossoms, a few greens and parsley sprigs to snip. Another day slips by.
Nothing seems to make sense for much is neither here nor there. I find myself always cold or overly dressed. Olivia wears Uggs to school and returns home in soccer shorts, walking around the house barefoot. I am anxious and unfocused, wasting precious time before the onslaught of the holidays. The screen and page have been blank, the oven cold.
Mr. Savory has put the question out about Thanksgiving. What do I want to do? Host or travel, invite or hope to be invited? I wanly add escape to the options.
The clothing stores are placing their fall merchandise on sale to make room for glittery holiday tops, dresses, and ski sweaters. They are eager to push out Halloween bite-size chocolate bars and make room for candy canes, creating another shopping opportunity before we have even settled on a Thanksgiving turkey recipe. My reply is to take refuge in the off-peak periods. I bask there until I must take action.
For those of us whose lives are not brimming with family, the holidays are riddled with indecision and conflicting emotions. I long for the the fullness of table and house, where the dominant sounds are laughter and voices calling from one room to another.
Over the weekend, we hiked twice. I returned both days thinking of nothing but apples and cinnamon. I have been making soups: minestrone, broccoli, and cauliflower. Perhaps a dedication to long days in the kitchen could be my way to cope.
I might enjoy a deep fall state of mind if I embrace baked apples with sugar, my favorite pear cake, cranberry and orange, pumpkin and plenty of spice, soup and bread for dinner. Hours spent outdoors tramping in the woods with the dogs to work up an appetite and desire to come back home and drink tea, followed by hearty red wine.
I imagine playing board games in the living room by the fire, just the three of us or with friends. This room beckons to be finished. Two fine pieces of furniture have been reupholstered, and my sites are set on finding a new rug and coffee table. My motivation a year ago was to let Aaron's spirit carry through and make that room comfortable to entertain guests. He loved people so, and I can hear his laugh at the thought of a room full of a family of friends. The turning indoors should nudge this project to completion, or at least a presentable work-in-progress.
Color can still be everywhere--in fruits and vegetables cooked slowly, in sweaters and scarves, in a place setting, formal or casual, in store-bought flowers or berry branches clipped in the yard or on someone's farm, in skeins of bright yarn hanging from knitting needles.
If my deep fall can be warmth from soup, the fragrance of spice instead of basil and lavender, sparkly sprinkles on cookies in place of vases of Zinnias, I might come off my island without force.