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Greek-American Stories: Good News: Autumn is Here

One morning, recently, I went out the kitchen door and, to my surprise, saw yellow leaves strewn over the patio and steps. I looked up to the dog wood tree. That’s where they came from. But, it’s only the beginning of August, I thought. Then, pausing, I remembered something my yiayia used to say. ‘Apo Avgousto, Himona.’  The complete phrase is, ‘From March, count on spring. From August, count on winter.’  And, it just so happens of all the seasons, I like autumn most. The days are shorter and the sun isn’t so intense, the humidity is less, walks around the lake in the park are more comfortable and we can enjoy a second spring of good food like sweet potatoes and sweeter berries and pumpkins. The trees display wondrous colorful foliage of yellow, orange and red. Some leaves turn to a rich burgundy. Health experts say that enjoying the outdoors and nature can cure depression or loneliness and boost our immune system.

There’s so much more one can do in the autumn season like use the oven with more comfort. In the backyard, I notice the animals that come and go with safety in my backyard forage for food with more intensity. Those woodchucks ate a lot of my blueberries. But, I am not annoyed. They can’t go to ‘Stop n Shop’ like I can. A pair of woodchucks, one baby skunk, two cats and several chipmunks stroll the backyard and entertain me. They don’t know I’m looking at them that early in the morning. I feed two stray cats regularly but I found out several women further down my street feed them, too. How good to know there are more people who feed animals in this selfish world. One morning I awoke to see two deer munching on the Hosta that border the path leading to the backyard. Seeing them brightened my day. Hosta will grow again next year but the deer may not come back, again.  There’s more to autumn than the cooler weather. The news is better, too. With the hope that rain will be more frequent fires may begin to subside, drought in some areas may receive relief, all due to the coming rains.

Then, there are Fall festivals in neighborhood churches where women display lovely hand knitted sweaters, cat blankets, scarves, mittens and other crafts. In Nyack, just harvested pumpkins on display mean fresh pumpkin pies and apple cider.  October is the magic moment for olive picking in Greece, I was told. Of course, autumn is also a reminder that the gift giving holidays are coming. Searching for the right gift is as stressful as finding a parking space. In fact, a parking space is a great gift!

October make indoors perfect for a cup of hot tea instead of iced tea, the serene quiet and a comfy chair by the window and, maybe, a book or magazine. I, even, appreciate catalogs at that time. Apples, just harvested, are so perfect in the fall with crispness and sweetness only the season can create.

Cozy, comfortable Fall is very welcomed after the ‘Dog Days of August, so called due to observing dogs panting with their tongues hanging out, sitting somewhere shady and wondering when will it end. The ancient Greeks, especially the women, celebrated the equinox in September, too. It marked the Thesmophia and Stenia festivals that welcomed the harvest season and marked time to thank the Gods for the plentiful yield of veggies and fruit, something like Thanksgiving.

. Poets and authors have glorified autumn with words like, “autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons (Jim Bishop). It’s true. The crisp breezes that stir the autumn leaves seem to carry a restorative spirit that revives a soul weary of the isolation and caution that turned our lives upside down with the Covid pandemic. But, unfortunately, the beauty that poets and authors had appreciated and were inspired with is waning. Climate change is finally being realized by those too arrogant, too selfish to admit. None of the chaos and destruction was caused by nature that knows how to heal; it is caused by humans. There’s the hunting season with the excuse that culling the animal population is a necessity. Who culls the human evil doers?  Oh, oh! Kiki, I think it’s time I went for that healing stroll around the lake in the County Park.

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