Welcome Autumn

After a summer of record heat over most of the country, the coming cool days is very welcomed. The garden that keeps me busy with weeding, clipping, and pulling out spent stems is ebbing. Hurray! The roses have yellow leaves and are inky and withered. The coreopsis has dark brown bulbs where yellow petals used to be. Birds flock the backyard in search of seeds that the grasses have produced. Then they line up at the water trough my husband built and drink a toast to the little feast they enjoyed. Whatever you think of the season, you can’t beat a warm home, a cup of tea and where every leaf is a flower ablaze with color before they toss them all away for the long sleep.

I remember taking the kids to a local farm where we’d choose a pumpkin for our doorstep. Now, they have their own homes and their kids will, probably, do the same. My yiayia Bessie never wasted a pumpkin for decoration. She frowned and used to say, “there are hungry people everywhere and we carve and toss pumpkins away! Huh!” She carved a large pumpkin into cubes, set it in some kind of liquid and then, next morning placed it into a big pot with sugar, added cinnamon and it boiled away until thick syrup formed. Then, she spooned it into jars she collected over the summer and hand it out to her grandchildren. It was delicious and something to remember. But, anything she made was top drawer stuff. Her ‘diples’ were the “stuff that dreams were made of.”

Walking in the park is more inviting in the coolness. It certainly is a good mental release after being cooped up indoors for days at a time. Thank goodness for hobbies. I paint, sew, and write in an upstairs room once occupied by my daughters, Ellen and Sophia, now in their own homes. I call it my studio. It is peaceful and comfortable and private. That, too, contributes to my mental comfort. Unfortunately, it also has a telephone. But, I ignore it when I’m ‘busy’! The only one who is forgiven for any intrusion is Sissy, my cat. The entire upstairs is hers, anyway. There, she lolls, sleeps and strolls after eating which is often. In fact, in her mind, I am the intruder.

The backyard now produces less tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, vlita and Swiss chard. But, for some reason, the harvest wasn’t like other years when I used to be able to can a few jars of tomato sauce. I may go to the nearby farm and buy fresh, organic grown tomatoes for those sauces. What I always have success with is storing dill, rosemary, and thyme that I place in small plastic envelopes for the winter. Parsley was devoured by a little rabbit that left me only the stems. I forgave him because he is unable to go to Shop-Rite for his meals. And, he has enough to worry about with the marauding hawks that circle the skies overhead, backyard dogs that howl, foxes that roam the neighborhood and the nearby woods at night and, of course, people.

There is no doubt that my energies are revived in the autumn season. I placed hydrangeas I had cut into vases and gave some to neighbors who love them as I do. In these times of declining sensibilities of beauty, order, and civilities in the music with crude and insensitive lyrics, tawdry, callisthenic type dancing, exhibitionist singers with voices at less than mediocre levels, movies with neither humor nor grace, I thank unchanging nature that is found in the prismatic remnants of the fading garden that has the power to soothe the overwhelming and powerful atmosphere surrounding us, and help pacify rattled psyches that wonder how much longer can the human soul endure the crassness of our culture.

Color is an exciting sense that awakens memories and times; it brings attention to holidays, gatherings, a favorite piece of jewelry, the frosting on a birthday cake, an Easter egg, the ribbon in my hair when I was young, the first crocus in the garden in spring, the brightness of blue in the sky, the rustic, crimson, and golden leaves of the trees in autumn. Come celebrate with me.


A number of friends and colleagues who are intensely interested in Middle Eastern matters took issue with my National Herald article (‘Middle East History’, May 18, 2024), arguing that Israel is a colonial enterprise that has failed to integrate into the Middle East, like the Crusader states of yore.

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