It’s Autumn again: How to embrace the change and make it timeless.
“Summer is running away from us,” Richard Conniff wrote in Ospreys: The Bird of Summer, his most recent piece on the Sunday edition of The New York Times.
Time is running away from me, I thought.
As I sat still on the green couch that faces the pool I paused in my reading; the turquoise of the pool looked more intense than usual, perhaps due to the incline of the sun at 9:00 in the morning. The water looked beautiful, inviting. Birds sang, but apart from their tweeting Tarzana waited in silence for the day to begin. I am lucky enough to live at the top of a hill, so the entire valley is spread out before my eyes when I stand by the orange tree. I can see the Santa Susanna Mountains on the horizon and the view takes my breath away – one reason I contemplate it every day in conscious gratitude.
Before reading Conniff’s article I had leafed through the 2015 Fall Fashion Edition of the T Magazine – I imagined Manhattan and the leaves changing color in Central Park, I pictured the sky getting darker earlier in the afternoon, the blue nights, and people walking on 63rd between Madison and Park Avenue when the wind blows crisp. I set my eyes on a Burberry scarf, too.
When a season is about to end I already have a foot in the following one, I am used to it, but the nature of my longing upset me on Sunday morning; I wavered between what I was experiencing and what I wanted to experience instead.
Vivid colors painted my garden, at least nine shades of green struggled to adapt to the drought, and one single red rose had bloomed a couple of days earlier. Lavender and rosemary released their earthy essence – but even my sense of smell was uncertain and unable to keep me grounded – ambivalent as it was.
By just closing my eyes I could breathe tanning lotion and seawater; I could feel the breeze and the sand on my salty skin. I saw a younger reflection of myself crossing an Italian street to walk from the campground to the local beach. I am carrying a tote handbag with a crossword magazine in it, fresh fruit and towels, all the necessary items needed for a day on the beach. When the coconut man walks by I give him one Euro for a slice that he picks from a wicker basket and cleans in cold water.
That was just a dream, but during my evening walks I do imagine my neighborhood as an Italian campsite; the houses become bungalows framed by palm trees and bougainvillea.
What changed on Sunday was my perception of time, so that the passing of almost invisible seasons felt immediate and tangible.
When I was a kid we didn’t have much, but my parents always did their best to give my brother and me both sea and mountain vacation time. My grandparents had a house in Valle d’Aosta, a region situated in the very northwest of Italy, not far from my native Turin, and we spent the marine part either in Puglia or Emilia Romagna. Only in my twenties did I vacation in Sardinia and Tuscany.
I listen to Italian radio a lot these days, Radio Deejay that is. Most of its deejays have been on vacation for the entire month of August, so I listened to old episodes of my favorite shows. I follow DJ Linus on Instagram, and through his family photos I travel back in time, to where I would like to take my husband soon.
When the deejays are back in Milan, on August 31st, you know that summer is over. That’s how it’s always been; a fact marked on the calendar just like the beginning of school on September 15th or the Immaculate Conception on December 8th.
Routines give me structure and safety. Not having one while already dealing with such changes as how people seem to perceive my persona and how I perceive myself destabilizes me.
I always treasured the rhythm and natural recurring of seasons – with unique colors and habits that follow. The older I get the more time becomes fragile and a cause of anxiety.
As I sat in my garden I dreamed the sweet autumn approaching and yet invisible because it was still the month of August. Autumn felt like a warm coat and a wool sweater, rain boots and the lights on, in the late afternoon, when I am preparing supper. I imagined my neighborhood again, and every kitchen was lit up – I felt part of a community. I used to envy others’ stories through a window, but I don’t today. I am in love with mine.
As I was getting ready for autumn, summer had slipped away from me without leaving trace. But I needed it, simple and traditional. My senses were confused, because in a land of eternal summer I was still waiting for its arrival, like when I was a child.
I wish I hadn’t taken for granted all those years of beach and mountain. I wish I had not obsessed about the future when my feet touched Italian waters and my hair was being turned into gold by the sun. Because I always wanted life to go faster and take me anywhere but where I was – I never suspected I would miss life. Today it’s running away from me just like the summer of 2015.
This blog, that has recently turned five, has always been home. This blog has always represented my way to keep grounded and remember about the seasons. On these pages I have always been able to write with honesty, feel relief and – with time – also notice the change. Perhaps, my longing for past seasons is just a way to remind me that I can still choose the present, and that time becomes timeless when I don’t run away.
Seasons will keep changing and I will with them.