Each September, I watch to the northeast from our yard in Tucson. Why? Waiting for autumn. The hint for me is when clouds begin to lay low and crawl at the mountain base. I can immediately feel a change in the air. Our summers are brutally hot, washing the sky to a faint white during the day. Yet, if you are an early riser, mornings are the best to hike, bike, garden, tar roofs, build homes, or whatever your fancy may be. I can only speak for myself–heat kills me during the summer, and I get extremely cranky. To add to that, and I will fess up–I am not an early riser. Pooh on me.
This summer we were blessed with more than usual monsoon rains. They danced around, across, and back again, even today, rain shadows behind the Catalina, along the Tortolita to the Tucson Mountain ranges. Clubs of clouds rise tall with power, others flatten out in gunpowder gray and the air picks up. Autumn has teased wickedly and openly all through September and lingered at October’s door. Last Tuesday on the fourth, Autumn stepped through.
As a kid in the Midwest, fall was full. Full of arts and crafts festivals, fall drives, the annual antique road show that stretches for miles along Spoon River, endless miles of crackly cornfields ready for harvest, hay rides, apple orchards bursting to be picked, and pranks. In Chapter 2 of our book, my story of tipping outhouses, a generational legacy, always came in the fall. Why? (Here is that question again)…because.
In Tucson, the teasing of autumn has kicked out the 100s, allowed the 90s, and paved the way for low 80s during the day and low 60s at night. Shortly, the Arizona Ash and Mulberry trees will begin to change clothing as the temperatures slide easily downward and closet the green and bring on the gold, red, and orange. Strings of thin cobwebs will crisscross in the air, the slant of the sun lower and longer, rays like a soft down comforter.
Colors of amber and spice creep out of cupboards and pantries, maple, pumpkin, salted caramel, stews, and rising bread, apples cooked down for applesauce, butter or jelly, sliced up for pies, and tossed into Saturday morning pancakes. Crockpots and recipes, family familiar or new experimentation, all in the palette of fall.
It is our season, our time, our patch of autumn. I will visit with autumn and you again in my blog to share a favorite recipe and perhaps, another teenage prank not mentioned in the book. There are quite a few.