I awoke yesterday morning to a text from a pal in Lexington. He reported an overnight frost and that he was wearing his cashmere sweater. Relax those eyebrows, it’s okay. He was in cashmere mid-week because he was going calling. I had overslept, so a quick scan of the backyard showed no signs of frost here, but I’ll be glad when it does.
Right now I have a few Gerber daisies still hanging on, colorful little starburst heads bobbing on worn-out stems. I can’t bring myself to toss them on the compost pile, but neither can I quite stand to look at them. A killing frost will put things right, and I can move on to collecting moonflower seeds.
My house wasn’t particularly cold, and I am not cold-natured, but I turned my heat on anyway, just to smell the furnace. You know, the way it smells after months of idleness, a warm, toasty, “is my house on fire” kind of aroma that scares and soothes us. I didn’t keep it on very long, just long enough to get that autumn longing out of my system.
Halloween will kick off the holiday season, and it sounds like we might have some challenges this year. Turn on the news and gaze upon the thousands of metal containers on ships off the coast of California, Georgia. In those containers are the toys, and games, and very cool electronics that land on Christmas lists. If you see it in the stores, you better buy it.
In this way I am lucky. My Christmas gifts fold neatly into envelopes or lie on a shelf in a closet, gathering dust as I have collected them all year long.
But the same can’t be said for the Thanksgiving turkey.
I tell you what I am about to tell you in a spasm of holiday solidarity. I keep reading that turkeys may be in short supply this year. It isn’t the turkey so much that is elusive, but the personnel to process it. I have already begun scouting the deep freeze bins in our local food emporiums. I urge you to do the same, and if you see one, get it. Just don’t get mine.
I am so stressed about the turkey shortage that I dreamed just last night I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner with people I do not know, and when I arrived there was no scent of roast turkey in the air. I have no idea what they served. I woke up from this nightmare in a cold sweat and had to get up and walk around a bit to shake it off.
Before I thought my house was on fire because of my furnace, I thought it was on fire because so many neighbors have fireplaces and fire pits all aglow. I have a fire pit, too, with tinder, kindling and fuel all laid out in perfect Girl Scout order, but I have yet to put a match to it. The city has replaced the light in the alley, some LED horror that lights up my backyard like a prison yard. Sitting just so, around the fire pit, it shines directly in your eyes and you could read the newspaper by it.
They promise to come out and adjust the light, and I hope that happens soon. It is one of my best skills, harnessing fire, and I miss getting to use it.
I have sorted my books, the ones I’ve ordered and left in a pile, awaiting the fall, and I am reading “Anxious People,” by Fredrik Backman, who gave us the wonderful “A Man Called Ove.” And the second Thursday Murder Club mystery, “The Man Who Died Twice,” by Richard Osman. Here we have a group of sophisticated retirees, still vital, still irritating in the ways they have always been irritating, still talented in the ways they have always been talented, solving murders, old and new. And these books are funny. But not fluffy. Well, light, maybe, engaging and affirming, because the characters are old, but they are not sweet.
If I had a cashmere sweater I might put it on. As it is, I’m digging out a sweatshirt, some socks, a fuzzy blanket for the couch, because the window it rests against faces west, and soon the wind will whistle and barge its way through the cracks. Now if those leaves will just turn.