Fall Into It

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Yay! Fall is here. Sort of. Kids are back in school, the local baseball team has ended its run, the garden is gasping out it’s last batch of harvestable produce, a few leaves are scattering themselves along the street. The official date, laughing at me from the calendar, insists that autumn cannot start until September 23rd. I have a box full of potato crop in the basement beer fridge that says otherwise. This year seems to refuse to relinquish summer. I am in dire need of a crisp, cool night with a lively bonfire.

Every time I watch the news, I see the world is melting like an ice cube on a stovetop skillet. Temps have been in the 100’s in too many places to count. In the mountains, we have been complaining about the temperature like we have earned that right, but it got into the 90s only a few times this year. It’s the humidity by which we are made uncomfortable. It reminds me of the sultriness of a fall day in southeast Texas. I am ready to have my well-deserved Appalachian fall. I made the effort to move here, so I only want what’s rightfully mine.

When my husband and I first moved here to western North Carolina, I had flashbacks to my New Jersey childhood, the coolness of the late summer evenings with a hint of a coming change in the air. In Texas, the leaves didn’t fall until March, when the new leaves evicted the old ones from their dwelling places in the trees. Here the leaves take on such bright hues–not ugly brown, at least not right away. We get to have a couple months surrounded by splendid color and weather that coaxes us outdoors to hike and pick apples and gossip around the firepit. We get to drink freshly brewed drafts with autumnal names like Atomic Pumpkin, Oktoberfest and B’Autumns Up. We get to sit outside during the day to nosh on seasonal produce…mostly because we have actual seasons.

Despite the continued afternoon heat, our wild tomatoes are still churning out quite the crop. This is the time of year I start to flag, since I have to roast many pans of tomatoes when they start to spill over into my kitchen and I need to freeze them to stow in the basement freezer. They are prolific little devils, thriving in that jungle we sometimes call the vegetable patch. Our neighbors are tending their own gardens, pulling the spent (fried) plants and preparing for a fall planting. Our own baby radishes are sprouting some green leaves, panting for shade and water. We oblige as best we can so as to coddle them until real fall gets here with its rain and coolness.

So, bears are out, despite no discernable change in temperature. They are starting to bulk up for their winter holiday. Seems like our other local fauna are helping themselves to whatever our gardens have to offer. I’ve seen plenty of teeth marks in our tomatillos. It’s been so warm, our strawberries, still growing, have succumbed to the perpetual unending demands of our wildlife population. We’ve managed to grab a few for ourselves. That’s chipmunks 20, Hobbit House inhabitants 4. I’m not sure I’ve ever had fresh strawberries in September, so I’ll count that as a win all around.

There were pumpkins for sale at the grocery store on my last visit. As I am older and wiser these days, I passed them by. It’s too warm to start displaying our gourds outside on the front porch. I love the look. The orangey, squashy, cornhusk-ish, hay bale allure. Pine cones will soon follow, along with the pumpkin lights for that special day at the end of October. I’m just not there yet. The heat would melt my pumpkin into a lovely pudding for my dog to nose into on our way out for a walk. Our resident chipmunks would feast on any decorative produce available for the pickings. My Buddha statue is still wearing his Mardi Gras beads and my dual stair-top planters have burned to a crisp, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Any festooning of my front porch will require a few mornings that call for a light jacket and an afternoon or two when I can turn off the air conditioning.

Until then, we still have the a/c running and the summer bedspread on our bed. I’m still wearing shorts and tee shirts and carrying a water bottle during our short afternoon walks. My dog still flops onto the cool kitchen floor after playing outside. Most of the trees are still green and the sun seems relentless. But I know, fall is coming. It has to. I’m used to waiting for cooler temps due to my 42-year residency in Houston, Texas, but this year, I am positively yearning for it. Summer–you need to fade into the history books. We’ve had enough of you. I have sweaters that need wearing and a despondent fire pit that wants to be useful. Maybe I need to drink more Atomic Pumpkin Ale.

Waiting to be cool,



  1. You and me both!! Summer needs to cool off…

  2. I LOVE fall and I LOVE your writing.

  3. It really is sad how the climate has changed. And I’m about to embark on a journey to Florida for 12 days so I’ll be in that 90° temperature. Why am I even packing pants.? I feel your pain, Cheryl.

    And why doesn’t this ever save my email? I have to reenter it every time.

    • I think you are not subscribed, but get my personal email. Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t know you. Stay chill while in Fla and come back to your pals in AVL asap!

  4. And at 8am this cloudy morning, I am happy to say that the cold front (for Texas) materialized, and it is just 70°. As my knee heals, I hope to be able to get out and about. Our garden (not good) was very neglected due to Norway trip and extreme heat when we returned until this week. And my knee is keeping me inside (ground very uneven). So… waiting some more weeks….

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