The tomato plants are turning yellow. We’ve reached mid September and the sun no longer climbs over the trees to warm the patio. Tiny orbs of fruit still ripen, but the vines slouch and hang with withered leaves. As I pluck the flesh from weary stems, squirrels stuff acorns into bulging faces in the yard behind me. The cicadas’ dentist-drill shrieks have faded to keening whispers. Holding a harvest of cherry tomatoes in the hem of my shirt, it occurs to me that I’ve been busy for the last few weeks and almost forgot to notice that we are in transition.
A month ago, the mid-afternoon sun poured over the top of the house and streamed into the back windows, producing sweat on my upper lip. Most times, the thermometer out back recorded temps over 90. Today I park myself at the computer in blue jeans and a sweatshirt. The house sits chilly in the shade, and when I walk outside to pick the tomatoes, I take a startled breath at air that feels warm.
For a moment, I sit on the back steps in the one sunny spot filtering through the shadows cast by waving oak leaves. In a few weeks, we’ll be stacking wood. The sun will set earlier. We’ll light a fire, simmer soup on the stove, bake something apple in the oven. Trees will bleed the reds and oranges hard frosts cut into them; flannel shirts will brush soft against our skin.
There is so much to look forward to about autumn. But for the next few days, I’m going to focus on now—how the sedum blushes pink in the top garden while Black-eyed Susans brighten the ledge below, and especially, on a lingering shawl of warmth that wraps itself around my shoulders as the departing fingers of summer lift on a freshening breeze.