I was taking the dogs for a walk the other day and as they ran happily through a pile of leaves at the local park I realized – isn’t it a bit early for the trees to fall? Honestly, ever since I saw a bumblebee buzzing around some Christmas trees last year, it all seems a bit “freaky”.
What we’re witnessing right now is known as “false fall,” where trees that ran out of water during the heatwave shed their foliage because apparently even the trees can become “stressed” by weather changes.
I know we’re in the midst of a fear epidemic, but when even the trees go berserk and lose all their hair, you know things are bad.
But while the early appearance of what our American friends call “autumn” with admirable bluntness may just have been a natural response of plant life to somewhat unseasonably warm weather, we all know the sad, inevitable truth – summer is on its last legs , and autumn, wrong or not, is now tweaking our ankles.
In many ways, this is the most depressing time of the year. We’ve had a couple of months of decent weather with the occasional week of blistering heat thrown in for good measure.
It’s been a decent summer weather wise.
Sure, the bright sunshine has lifted everyone’s spirits lately – but what goes up must eventually go down, and pretty much every conversation I’ve had over the past few days has been with someone (usually me, in fairness) connected, who noticed that he could feel the change in the air.
In the evening the light feels different now – it’s dimmer and paler.
The usual hum of neighborhood lawnmowers will soon disappear. The smell of barbecues will soon be replaced by the smell of peat fires, which are being lit for the first time in months. And, of course, there’s the dreaded sight of TV commercials touting all their deals on books and back-to-school uniforms.
I doubt there’s a single Irishman alive who doesn’t have some weird flashback to his own childhood when those damn adverts pop up on our screens or appear in our newspapers.
I doubt there is a single Irishman alive who does not recall that feeling of vague, existential dread as we realized that the three months of glorious freedom afforded us by the school summer holidays were soon to come to a shuddering end , as we spent hours queuing for the books we would need for the new semester. Or worse, look for a new uniform.
If you stood in line at the old Hanna’s bookstore on Nassau Street, you would at least walk out with a new history book or something else you actually wanted to read in your spare time, while hunting for uniforms was a bloody nightmare – I still have it to this day convinced that my mother was determined to get me the itchy, scratchiest school pants she could find.
As Irish people, we seem to have as much that separates us as unites us.
But there’s one problem we all agree on, regardless of your political persuasion – this is a pretty gloomy time of year when we get rid of all our summer gear, grab our winter clothes from the back of the closet and get ready We’re gearing up for a grim return to reality – and the next few months are looking like they could be particularly grim.
We are facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis that will marginalize many of us.
The heating costs for our houses are expected to almost double in the coming months.
Wages are falling while prices are rising, and as if we can forget, the ongoing situation in Ukraine means we are now contemplating the terrifying prospect of the Russians using a nuclear weapon on the battlefield.
Frankly, the worse things get for Vladimir Putin, the more dangerous things become for us, and the fact that many NATO generals are now openly admitting that they are concerned he might use a “baby nuke” if he the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate just another example of how the year 2022 seems to have it for us.
Have we ever experienced a time of such turmoil and stress?
So what do we do?
Do we succumb to the first signs of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and go to bed for the next few months? Do we huddle together in fear at the sight of a world that seems dangerously out of joint? Do we spend our nights contemplating whether to choose between heating and eating?
Well, yes – but only to a certain extent.
Obviously, these are big problems that won’t go away no matter how hard we try to look the other way. But I think the sensible option is to examine all of these issues and then ultimately shrug and accept that some issues are just out of our hands.
However, we still have a choice in how we respond, which is why, even as a lifelong bitch about fall’s coming, I decided to do something about it.
I’ll eat my way through the next few months.
In a rare moment of charity, my mother-in-law even sent me her first harvest of cooking apples, which inspired me to go back to the Baldonnel orchard as a child. Thankfully—and perhaps surprisingly—she hadn’t actually poisoned the fruit, and I’ve gorged on homemade apple tarts, which are one of fall’s true flavors.
Now that I’ve put the grill back into storage, I’ve rooted out all my old soup pots and casserole dishes and started thinking about the kind of stews I’m going to make. I won’t spend my time frolicking on the couch — instead, I’ll spend my time in the kitchen, messing around with seasonal foods, and doing my best not to ruin everything I touch.
As the great John Prine once sang, “Summer’s end is around the corner, just flying / The swimsuits are on the line, just drying.”
Well, we’re at the end of summer now, and while it’s going to be a rocky few months for everyone, we owe it to ourselves to try and make the best of it.
Because let’s face it – it beats the alternative…
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/it-may-be-summers-end-but-dont-despair-when-autumn-gives-you-apples-make-tarts-41932873.html It may be the end of summer, but don’t despair — if fall gives you apples, make pies