it’s FALL, people! can you hear the voices singing? have you gotten out your jackets and scarves? put away your swimsuits? no matter that the forecast has mid-80s in the works for the weekend, today it feels like FALL. (sigh.)
the first year we lived in Japan, i begged my mama to send me real simple and better homes and gardens from september and october, hoping that the leafy pictures and soup-and-pumpkin recipes would rub some American autumn into my asian life. somehow it just wasn’t the same, with only my porch displaying a pumpkin. but i made wild attempts to grab at the joy of the past, crockpot-ing my meals, searching for squash, playing “a rush of blood to the head” (a fall favorite of mine), and baking pumpkin bread.
the next year, my sadness was less poignant, though my fall goodies had multiplied. my mama and some select friends who had the
frustration privilege of my mopey, overseas phone calls decrying the absence of all things pumpkin in my life took it upon themselves to fill up my void with care packages. I received pumpkin spice syrup, cinnamon apple candles, silk fall leaves and pinecones, and decorative towels with “fall” embroidered on the border — plus the all-necessary magazines.
the past two falls have been entirely too busy for me to welcome the change of weather with anything other than relief that i don’t have to keep sweating and saying ‘no’ to requests to go to the park. i had more or less accepted that fall would be different in Japan. i peeled large, deep purple budou (grapes) and relished in their characteristic flavor, tasting more like grapes than anything i had ever sampled in America (excluding, perhaps, grape popsicles — finally, i understood where the inspiration for our grape flavoring came from: these budou!) i came to associate autumn with the ever-abundant and orange kaki, a fruit i had never tried before moving to japan. the persimmon has a thick skin and a few stiff, green leaves, and tastes phenomenal with plain yogurt and cinnamon. fall also meant undokai (sports day) at jones’s school and for the neighborhood. i ran the relay, bryan did the tug-of-war, and we cheered on the rest of the surugadai folk (our neighborhood).
this fall — today — i am in nebraska, and remembering why it was so hard to forget its seasonal rituals. i’m trading iced toddy for cappuccinos, wearing flats instead of sandals, and drooling over sweaters and cardigans in the shops. i’m ready to wear necklaces again, which i boycott in the summer months because the combination of sweating, hair brushing my chin, and jewelry tugging at my neck is just too much for this sensitive body. i’m pulling the blanket up to my chin while i turn book pages, thinking of my pumpkin candle sitting on the counter of my home in japan, hoping it will be cool enough to light it when we get back.
the nostalgia of autumn is too much for me at times. i’m not sure where to place my creative efforts and usually spend a large amount of time rearranging (and subsequently losing) a lot of things. without a home to redecorate, i’m spending a lot of time talking walks to buy coffee and staring out the window, bursting randomly into a cheer and a few claps of glee, exclaiming to my two little ones, “it’s fall!” — to which their tiny, cherubic faces erupt into smiles, as if they know what i’m talking about, and they clap quietly with me. jones alone bemoans the colder weather, reminding me that he will have to put his swimming goggles away until next summer.
yes, i know, dear boy — i am a summer fish, myself. but in the autumn? in the autumn, i am a cuckoon filled with quiet excitement, ready to burst forth when the time is right.
what do YOU do to enjoy the changing of seasons? the coloring fall?