I woke up this morning at 2:30 to a stillness. We sleep with the fan in our room going and most of our windows cracked open for the fresh air. It was warm. Odd. So I got up to use the bathroom and water the cat (he likes to drink from the tub faucet) before coming back to bed. I never look outside or turn a light on in fear that I might just wake up too much. So, I'm lying in bed, trying to get comfortable when all of a sudden, the room cools down, the curtains lift with a breeze. And then I hear it; the tentative little patter of misty raindrops. The proverbial "calm before the storm" had woken me up, and before I could really think on this, the raindrops came, faster and stronger. My first thought was "Oh, this is so nice; I'm glad I am awake to hear it!" My second thought was, "Dang! Why couldn't this be Saturday?" It would be so nice to be able to leisurely lay in bed on a Saturday morning and listen to the rain!
We have had the first rain in a very long time. The temperature is going to be 62* today and I have my mantle decorated for Halloween and my pumpkins bought. You guessed it1 It's finally autumn! My favorite time of the year.
Having been born a California girl one would think that I really don't notice, or am not affected by, the seasons. But when I was in 5th and 6th and 7th grades, we lived just south of Boston, Massachusetts on a Naval Air Station. We had finished a two year stint in Georgia, just northwest of Atlanta, and other than the summers being more humid than Southern California, the weather did not impress me much. The bugs were a different story...but that's for another blog.
We moved to Massachusetts in the summer. Kind of muggy but not anything unusual. Then school started. Then fall came. Our first home in Massachusetts was the middle apartment in a three story building. There was one apartment just like ours on the top floor and one on the bottom floor. It looked like a huge 3 story Victorian house. In the dining room, on the side of the house, and in the living room, on the front of the house, there were floor-to-ceiling bay windows with window seats. Since the dining room was closest to the kitchen, and usually warmer than the rest of the house, I claimed that window seat as my own. There I watched the neighbor's yard and garden shift from summer to fall and later to winter.
But it was the change from summer to fall that caught my attention the most. It seemed as if, overnight, the world had totally changed. The neighbor's rose bushes were pruned down to the bare stems, a bush of Chinese Lanterns turned bright orange, the large tree (I have no idea what type it was) that draped over their side yard and escaped their yard to cover our driveway had mutated from green bunches of nondescript foliage to branches of gold and orange and rusty colored leaves. I'm telling you: it all made an impression.
The show lasted several weeks, changing daily, until it rained shortly before Thanksgiving. Then the leaves were just so many brown spots on the sidewalks and when they dried out, you could see people up and down the street raking them into large piles by the curb to burn, (oh, the days before environmental awareness!) giving off that slightly musty smell that wafted through the neighborhood.
Even though we spent only three years in Massachusetts, those change of seasons have stayed with me. Since we are back in California, and have been here since 1967, (yeah, do the math...I'm that old) I have had to develop a keen sense to determine the change of seasons. Pumpkins everywhere is a sure sign. The temperatures dropping, so I have to dig out my winter coat (let me just say here that my California winter coat is about 1/2 the warmth needed on the East Coast) is another sure sign. Rain plays a big part in making the season what it should be and I have targeted the trees around in the neighborhoods that change colors. They are not as plentiful, but that only makes them shine in our otherwise ordinary landscape. And I am entranced every year anew.