A Chill in the Air

My mantel done up for the season

It’s that time of year… The weather has gotten consistently cooler with highs in the 50s and 60s. Folks say that, after such a mild year, we’ll get slammed for sure this winter.  The leaves haven’t turned yet but each morning I wake up with the urge to bake just to heat up the homestead. Tea and coffee have once again become a morning staple for me and I shuffle around the studio in ratty, knitted booties.  With a spare weekend, I purged myself of the dust bunnies, cobwebs, and tiny spiders that would call my studio home.  All in hopes that I wouldn’t lock myself up for the winter with unwanted guests. I’m straddling the line of really enjoying the return of my frumpy, old man sweaters and feeling a nostalgic twang at my heart for carefree summer days. A recent camping trip has left me with some spare s’mores supplies and I’ve taken to desperately recreating the magic of the summer evening campfire by toasting marshmallows over the open flames of my gas oven.  I figure that the gas burns off long before it can poison my mallow, especially since I’ve taken to lighting it ablaze and quickly blowing it out, eating the charred, brûléed skin. With all that said, Fall is one of my favorite seasons, Fall, Spring, the transitional times really. It’s the time of year where weather and limited seasonal offerings break me out of routine. This is about the time of year that I’m already lamenting the sudden disappearance of pumpkin ales which are inexplicably released in mid-August when I’m bemoaning my lack of air conditioning and still trying to goad friends with wheels into one last trip to the beach.  This year, knowing the dearth of that specialty beer at the time when I most crave it, I stocked up and am met with the toothy grins of a crisper full of shifting, rolling bottles depicting jack-o-lanterns.  Speaking of which, I ventured by train to Sleepy Hollow, meeting up with my sister and cousin for some spooky good fun.  Chief among this was the Great Jack’o’Lantern Blaze.

An arrangement of pumpkins form tombstones in front of the historic Van Cortlandt Manor.

Although the leaves haven’t changed in Philly, the shortest of trips back home to Western New York provided jaw-droppingly gorgeous vistas in the full range of fall foliage colors. Just as I love all the subtle shades of green on the trees in the Spring, so too do I crave the color palette of burnt oranges, mustard yellows, and dusty greens with splashes of flaming vermillion. I met up with my close college friend and her wonderful fiance at our old alma mater, Alfred University. Well hers at least, I was out after two years.  The chip on my shoulder I’d had for not being able to get out of Western New York as soon physically possible, had obstructed my view to what is (for two-thirds of the year) a beautiful, pleasant place in which to live.  It’s the leaden winters with their guarantee of a brown-grey mound of snow packed tight and freeze-thawed into ice occupying the back-corner of each parking lot that got me down. The brown-sludge stalactites to kick lose that develop on the cars undercarriage. The days where the temps alternate to above and below freezing and the precipitation in turn goes from light fluffy snow to sleet pellets to rain and back again. Obviously, I’ve got a bone to pick with winter and its scheme to trap me in doors. But I won’t leave on the brooding image that winter leaves in my minds eye. Instead, I’ll focus on the soups, stews, chili and pot roasts to be made and devoured in my teeny tiny with lights aglow while outside my window, the wind howls and the winter sky darkens to night at 4 in the afternoon. Who cares about a waistline when you’ve got no less than four layers between the air and what God gave ya. A friend once likened winter to a hibernation period.  She sees it as a time when she’s not running herself thin with social obligations and where she can take time to recharge.  I’ll take that into consideration when I get antsy from being holed up in my apartment for too long.

The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but wow! what a beautiful place from which I come.

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