An Exercise in E’s

Ethel was standing on the street again, staring at the white elephant painted on the sign of the grocer’s shop.  Ethan looked out the window at her, wondering why that sign fascinated her so much and why her fascination fascinated him.  The sign stood at the end of the street, an alley really.  Dark and damp, it wasn’t really a place most people liked to stand but almost everyday, Ethel came to stare at the elephant.  What was she thinking?  Did the elephant mean something to her?  Did it embody some old memory?  Was it some sort of esoteric message?  Who knew?  Only Ethel knew.

Ethan stared at her brown hair and small frame.  Did she have a home?  Did she live with anyone?  Did they wonder where she was everyday at 3.30 pm as she stood in the alley in front of Charlie’s Smart Grocery?  Ethan didn’t know, and on some level, he didn’t want to know because that meant he would have to care, and, at this point, he had more than enough to care about.

He turned back to his customer who was beginning to wonder why Ethan had stopped in the middle of tattooing “So Sexy” in script on his back.  Ethan grimaced, wondering how long it would be before the guy regretted this tattoo.  Maybe the guy would be eternally proud of it, or maybe he would just come to accept it as another part of his skin, not good, not bad.  When Ethan looked up again, Ethel had left.  The street had emptied as evening snuck into the city.  A small, pungent breeze kicked up several pieces of newspaper and sent them rolling into the gutter.


I Hear Fall’s Whispers

Beautiful Burch

There are two kinds of people in this world; those who love Fall—yes, I capitalize the word Fall—and those who don’t. And from that simple statement, I’m sure you can guess which camp I fall in.

Unless you live in the Gulf states or the southwest, you have probably felt the change in the weather already. As always, my giddiness rises with every new cool morning, every breath of drying leaves, and every sight of orange and yellow pumpkins. When I left the house this morning, the thermometer read 61 degrees. SIXTY ONE degrees!! Now, instead of dreading the doors that separate me from the heat and humidity of summer in the mid-Atlantic region, I start smiling at the mere thought of getting outside.

While Fall will not officially start until next month, I can feel the change in the air, hear the new tone in the whispers of the trees, and see great flocks of birds starting their long treks south. You may not think so but September is a month of beginnings. I know, I know. The leaves are falling and your vegetable garden is winding down but hear me out. For children, or those of you with children, now is the time for a new school year. This means new clothes (whether they be homemade, from the stores, or simply hidden away in a closet), new school supplies, new teachers, and new friends. Another chance to make this school year better than the last. One of the great American sports, football began last week, bringing with it a renewal of rivalries, friendly get-togethers, and stiff competitions. Soon, brilliant and vibrant colors will adorn countless trees and plants, bringing new beauty to neighborhoods and highways. Gardeners will start planting bulbs that weave the promise of a beautiful spring into the ground with their roots. Fresh, leaf strewn breezes are even now brushing away the burning, weighted air of summer.

Fall is a steady reminder to slow down from busy vacations and summer sales pushes, full weekends and fast meals. It is a call for rest and a call for comfort. Fall whispers “snuggle into me, into the leaf piles in the yard, into big sweaters and soft scarves, and into thick quilts that keep out the world.” The smell of wood smoke overtakes the smell of exhaust and sunscreen. Chili and hot cocoa warm and satisfy, stick to your insides the way strawberry salads and kale soups never can. Carnivals and haunted houses replace the screams and thrills of water parks and summer camps.

So tell me, what do you look forward to in the Fall? The hay rides? The apple picking? The rapid slide toward the holiday season? And if you don’t like Fall, that’s okay too. But I challenge you to spend time with someone who loves Fall more than any other season. Perhaps you’ll see it in a new way.