Samhain is the pagan new year, the cross-quarter day that falls between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. It’s variously pronounced — I say “sah’-wen” — but if you want to keep calling it Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve, that’s fine with me. Some years the seasons slide one into another with no respect for the calendar, but this year Samhain marked a turning point. A nor’easter (aka “a three-day blow”) moved in for the weekend, with rain rain rain and wind wind wind. In its wake we had our first frost of the season. It was 29 F when I headed out to do my laundry Monday morning.
I closed the skylight that was still cracked open and turned my heater on. It’s now set at 60 F. When the sun’s out, my studio apartment gets considerably warmer than that. Nevertheless, we’re now in the season where I wear two layers inside and add a third when I go out. There were at least six T-shirts in Monday’s laundry. I doubt we’ll see them on the line again before April. No longjohns yet, but I’ve had gloves on more than once. My trademark brown Greek fisherman’s cap is spending more time on my head and less on its hook.
A cool snap in mid-September alarmed me: my garden was laden with green cherry tomatoes, and I feared an early frost was imminent. It warmed up, it rained; nearly all the cherries ripened before the first hard frost. My 2011 garden is now officially defunct.
The two tomato plants in pots on my deck didn’t fare nearly as well as their full siblings in the garden. Their first flowers appeared a scant three weeks ago, and the frost caught them with two little cherries maybe half an inch in diameter. The basil went from green to black overnight.
I had a feeling a week ago Friday that I was taking my last outdoor shower of the season. It was in the high thirties that morning. Before leaving for the weekend, I got out the rest of my long pants, longjohns, flannel shirts, and turtlenecks. Shorts, tank tops, and sleeveless dresses went into the box vacated by the cool-weather duds. After I got home, outdoor showers looked more like penance than pleasure, so I moved soap and shampoo inside.
This weekend we turned the outdoor water off. I disconnected and drained my garden hose.
The garden isn’t put to bed yet, but its time is coming. Fall has turned the corner. No longer is it harking back toward summer. Winter isn’t here yet, but it’s in the air.