Scene and Heard

Autumn Fever Inflames the Heart and the Senses

By Scene And Heard
Monday, October 5, 2009

As we mourn the departure of summer, Marsha Kostura Schmidt gives reason to love the fall. We hope she'll write again in a few months to ease winter's bite.

Unlike spring fever, which brings on the need to stretch and clear my head and feel alert, fall fever puts me in a relaxed mood. It really is great sleeping weather. We leave the windows open at night and listen to the crickets lull us to sleep better than any canned alarm-clock sound or meditation music can. The fog starts the morning, and as I sip my tea, the cool dampness skims my skin and I wrap my robe a little tighter. Soon the filtering sun burns off the fog, but the day seems lazy. The sky is bluer, the breeze cooler and the warm day a bit gentler.

I check the garden, and the tomatoes have slowed considerably. They are green and will stay green. Time to fry them up. The zucchini has blossoms but not enough energy to grow a squash. I pick the last blossoms and we will eat them, too, stuffed with ricotta and fried. Now the chard and mustard greens are comfortable; the hot sun has dissipated and they are growing larger. The oregano has flowered and the honeybees enjoy the nectar. I've never seen oregano-flavored honey. I wonder whether it exists.

The monarchs, now on their autumn journey south, have found the butterfly bushes, and they slowly flap their wings as I watch them take their fill. They don't seem too afraid, and I can closely study their wings and dotted bodies while they feed. The bumblebees also share the butterfly bush, and they buzz close to me, not out of aggression, but because they are tipsy now -- the sugar and the cooler air make them move a bit slower and clumsier, kind of like me. The goldfinches have stripped the coneflowers of their seeds, and they chirp at me to fill the feeders. The black-eyed Susans have lost most of their flowers, but one or two hang on low to the ground. The chrysanthemums have somehow survived the winter and summer and are blooming right on cue.

Soon the shorter day brings long shadows and bright yellow sunsets. We eat dinner on the patio and it is dark by the time dessert is served. We chat in the dusk and watch the large harvest moon rise. It shines brightly in the sky next to Jupiter, the evening star. One or two lightning bugs still rise up from the grass; we tell them they are late and may never find a girl. The tree frogs are croaking so loudly they drown out the other sounds of the night. A bat flies by. We talk about getting the firewood ready; it will soon be time to have an evening fire, with marshmallows that we char to just the right consistency and flavor. And maybe we might have cigars and a fine Belgian beer. The rhythm of the season continues.

-- Marsha Kostura Schmidt, Silver Spring

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