Autumn had a couple of false starts here at the Wren’s Nest in the Northern California Sierras. We had a pleasant, cool week; an unbelievably hot week; and then, an in-between one. But tonight the first of a series of storms has blown in, ushering in the last week of October. With them comes colder, wetter weather than we’ve seen here since April.
Just as I expected.
The last week of October, for as long as I can remember, has always been the transition week between summer and true autumn. It’s the week I build the first, fragrant woodstove fire to take the damp chill out of the house. It’s a cozy fire, warm and gentle, the perfect foil to an afternoon spent raking up leaves while late flocks of Canada geese V by overhead, honking their goodbyes.
It’s the week of my birthday and of Hallowe’en, which was always my favorite holiday as a child. I loved dressing up as a vampire, witch or ghost and joining the small crowd of neighbor-kids after night fell to visit house after house, knocking on doors and ringing doorbells, then yelling “trick 0r treat” when they opened. The suitably frightened residents dropped big handfuls of candy into our open brown grocery sacks, choosing treats over tricks every time. It was delicious fun, the one night a year I was allowed to be out after dark without my parents, running and laughing and shivering in my costume, which was always too thin for the sharp, late-October cold. Wear a coat? No way!
Later, I got to help my little daughter dress up in her costume and make-up for Hallowe’en, but times had changed. She never got to go without me in tow, standing out on the sidewalk as she knocked doors and had her bag filled with goodies, but she still had a great time. And of course, like I did, she gobbled up all that candy, forbidden every other time of year, within a few days.
Today, while I have a bowl of candy ready, hoping that small crowds of pirates, vampires and wookies will rap on my door on Hallowe’en night, they rarely do. Instead, I guess their parents take them to harvest festivals at their schools and churches. That thrilling, wild night of play and treats, cold noses and pumpkins on doorsteps seems to be a relic of the past. I miss it.
It started raining a little while ago. I was unsurprised. Of course, I’d seen the weather forecast, so I knew it was coming, but along with that, my joints have been twinging like crazy all day. A rheuma flare is in my stars. Both my hands hurt when I move the joints or touch them. My right knee stabs as I walk. And both hips ache with a combination of rheuma and bursitis.
I’m in good spirits, though. I’m listening to the rain as it drums the roof and trickles in the gutters. I’ve got my window cracked so I can smell it and feel the crisp snap in the air, even as I wrap up in my thick, warm robe and quilt. On Monday I’ll be another year older, but that little girl who loved Hallowe’en is still right here, enjoying the season and the gifts it brings.