Home In Autumn

Welcome to a new season, here on this first official day of fall. I took this photo of my writing place this morning. I wrote most of ALL-STARS here, and am hard at work now on book one of the Sixties Trilogy.

My entire living/dining room in this house in Atlanta is my office/study. I can shut the doors and be alone here, next to the family room and kitchen, with three floor-to-ceiling windows that look onto the front deck and gardens, and write away. I alternate between this chaise I bought when I moved here in 2004 and the door-desk where I sit at the desktop, stare out the windows, answer email, pay bills, and do business. And play mahjong (curse you, Rita Williams-Garcia! :>)

In the years that I lived in Frederick, Maryland, fall marked a new year as my children returned to school and summer gave up its particular pleasures. I went back to work, long days, with my writing. Fall has the air of return, for me.

The air has changed, the routine has changed, the life of our household has changed. For one thing, it's chilly in the mornings and evenings -- I pulled a quilt out this morning for the first time so I can work in the early-morning dark and stay warm without turning on the heat and cooking those who are still in their beds.

I'm home more than away this fall, for the first time in several years, working away on the next novel each morning. I can't describe how grounding this feels... so let me show you. Home in autumn means time for making music with friends (happy birthday, Jim).

Home in Autumn means earthy foods like squash and wild rice and homemade cornbread; meals with heft, like lentil-eggplant soup and bananas and carrots fresh from the ground.

Home in autumn means my homemade cocoa recipe.

Home in autumn means I have time to notice the praying mantis who likes the colors of my house.

I admire his colors, too.

Home in autumn means I can be patient as I wait for a shot of the hummingbirds visiting the feeders, gathering fuel for the last of the insect-catching and their coming journey south.

The puppy can admire the lemon balm and columbine and wish I'd let him romp in the garden.

Home in Autumn means sitting on the front porch and admiring the last wag of the garden in September.

I can work in the garden at my leisure -- what a treat this is. And what a lot of work needs to be done, to put the garden to bed for the winter. I believe this rooster was cast from a photo of Rooster Herman in LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER.

Home in autumn means quilts on the table in Irene, with good friends and family to share bowls of chili, and the ease of good conversation.

Then, as evening falls and the temperature drops, home in autumn means lighting a fire in the chiminea on the back porch and listening to the crackle of sticks as the table is set for a simple Sunday night supper: leftover chili, cornbread, salad, and some freshly made miso soup.

The light in autumn slants in a heartbreaking way, doesn't it? I love here the gleam of the glow from the fire on the right, bookended by the soft yellow light coming through the kitchen windows on the left.

I love that I have time to notice this. How I have missed being present, home, in autumn.

From my seat in front of my white bowl of miso last night, I gazed back into the house to see Cleebo lounging on the table.

I didn't have the heart to move him. He had been missing for almost two weeks when he showed up a few days ago, hungry and ready to sink back into his routines.

He looked so comfortable, so serene, so at-home at home, and I know that feeling, I didn't want to disturb it. I know what it's like to want to come home in autumn.