Gaining an hour of sleep on a weekend when you are flattened by the flu is a treat to be savored and appreciated.
The tradeoff is that darkness comes early. I stepped outside at dusk and was rewarded by the sharp, sweet aroma of woodsmoke and the bosky, earthy smell of fallen leaves.
In recent years, all my autumns have been enjoyed on the fly, a snatch here and a bit there. I try to make the most of those moments of enchantment that are best enjoyed when you have the time to enjoy them.
I'm not complaining. That's how it is. I am grateful for what I have.
But I do recall a time 14 years ago before I went back to work as someone's employee. I'd put my little public relations business on hold, and I had taken a break before I searched for a job. My days were spent raking leaves, walking along the river and through neighborhoods of stately old homes, and cooking and baking. I had time to shop for bargains, and we ate well: Stews and soups and stuffed pork chops and chicken Normandy.
I had time to savor it all, to drink in the wine-rich air of autumn and enjoy life. I prepared for Halloween, carving my little jack-o-lantern on a balmy afternoon, one eye on the clock so I would have it ready for the trick-or-treaters. The day ended with a drive around town with my neighbor, K., a Halloween lover who wanted company as she cruised the streets looking for elaborate Halloween displays.
The next two days were dark and gray and damp, and I stayed in my kitchen with pots of spicy apple tea. I'd brought my pumpkin inside, and kept its candle going for a day or two after the holiday, reluctant to let go of the season.
Snow came early that year, and so did bad news: My husband was laid off the week before Thanksgiving. Although he eventually went back to work and I found a job in the interim, it was a lean winter.
There was no discontent. We managed well, and although my job was two steps down the career ladder for me, I stayed for 10 years and began to love it and the people I worked with. Times are better now, and we are thankful for continued employment in this challenging year.
On these dark fall nights, I remain grateful and enjoy the produce of the season. Squash is simple. I roast it, and serve it with butter. Nothing could be easier or more comforting as we prepare for the coming winter.