In the coastal Mediterranean climate where I live, September and October are times of hot days and clear, cold nights. The sun is no longer strong enough—nor are the days long enough—to drive the cycle that draws ocean air inland during the height of summer, blanketing us with cooling fog.
It is a somewhat eerie time, typically windless, with wan sunlight and hard blue skies as leaves turn, children return to school and adults to work after the playful season of summer. The scent of fermenting grapes often fills the air as “The Crush” of the grape harvest proceeds and the vineyards turn autumn colors. Summer gardens crank out vegetables well into October. In some years, we may get a solitary rainstorm, but this year, no such luck, thus far. Fire danger is high.
It’s a time when it feels to me as though the world is holding its breath, waiting for the winter which may—but won’t necessarily, given our recent four-year drought—come. The days shorten steadily down to the moment when, in the first weekend of November, we make the sudden jump off of Daylight Savings Time and the Darkness has truly arrived.
And, of course, it is the countdown to Halloween, the witchiest holiday of the year. As September ends, pumpkins and broomsticks and skulls and black cats begin to appear in decorations through the community.
I think there is a hardwired impulse in us, as the systems of life rachet down for winter, to craft and preserve food and lay in firewood and clean rain gutters and otherwise carry out householding activities that will help us to get through the long winter. Such industry is all around.
I find myself gathering brightly colored leaves for my Focus, and preparing for my circle to visit this Saturday. We’ve been together for a very long time and I always look forward to seeing my circle sisters and brothers.
As I said, it’s a strange time. It feels as though there is a lot of activity about to happen, but it’s not here yet. So I wait, and do my rituals, and enjoy the beautiful days.
What’s your favorite thing about autumn?