Sound the horn of plenty, it's time for Yours Truly's 10 sure signs of autumn:
1. What's with all the fog? I certainly don't miss driving to work at 6 a.m., trying to keep my eye on the road or at least those little reflectors on the white lines, especially while I'm changing radio stations, drinking coffee and attempting to pick up the lip balm I dropped on the floor. Some mornings I felt like an extra in a John Carpenter film.
2. What's with all the food?
It's harvest time, which means you're either bringing in the crops or shopping for them at, the grocery. Gourds and other veggies abound including the pumpkin, the official fruit of fall, used for pies, cookies, fancy coffees, and jack o' lanterns. The world record for a pumpkin is more than 1,800 pounds - which is good news for the whipped-cream industry.
3. Pass the gravy, please.
As an addenda to #2, we can't forget Thanksgiving when the turkey must die so that people can go on about how much they've eaten as they loosen the clothing about their waist and head for the TV room or the toilet.
Mostly, what we're thankful for is a functioning sewage treatment system. When Uncle Burt cuts the cheese during dinner, we are also reminded that this is family time when we get to see all the "rellies" and give thanks that it only happens a couple times a year.
4. Hey, gimme the remote.
Sports predominates this time of the year with the playoffs leading up to the World Series in baseball and the countdown to the Grey Cup. If you're a hockey fan this is the time of the year that all your NHL starts are moving to Europe.
5. A little rain never hurt no one, says Tom Waits and hell, I agree, after 86 days of sunshine in the longest summer ever.
We rely on a seepage well for our water, which I have to haul for three months or more. This rain means that I can put away my Gunga Din costume and start doing laundry at home.
6. Halloween: a boon to candy manufacturers, Value Village, and shy partygoers who are more than willing to get drunk and make fools of themselves because they are in costume and think no one will recognize them, facts you won't find in Wikipedia. Loosely related to All Hallows' Eve, a pagan ceremony involving the return of the dead, the lighting of fires etc.
7. It is a good time to have a bonfire outside, marking another sign of the season, the wonderful smell of wood smoke and/or your neighbour's shed going up in flames from an errant piece of fly ash.
Have the hose at the ready. 8. I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK: get out the plaid shirts and the wool socks and the big boots, there's a chill in the air.
You might also dig out the toque as we move into November. The women, of course, will make a fashion statement out of the cooler weather with their scarves and sweaters and $200 Italian leather boots that won't make it within 50 yards of the woodshed.
9. Dark days, dark beer: quit with the Coors Light, you sissies, it's time to start drinking the dark stuff or at least a honey brown right out of the bottle, like a man. And for the girls, maybe some warm cider or mulled wine out by the fire.
It's no sin, either to put a little something in the coffee of a cold morning.
10. Not to forget the dying of the leaves and the blaze of colour on the hillside. I know this because a friend sends me photos from Ontario. Out here I only get intimate with the leaves when I have to remove them from the gutters.