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Entries in Frances Mayes (1)


Dog Days of Summer Turns to the Harvest Moon of  Autumn

In my part of the world, it seems like a curtain is drawn every Labour Day weekend. On one side is the all too short string of summer days, while on the other is the inevitable time of darkness, snow, and cold.
First will come autumn, though, a season which I love. There are fall days where the sky is a breathtaking brilliant blue, especially when juxtaposed against the lacy framework of saffron, ochre, amber, and pumpkin hued leaves. The freshness of the air puts a march into your step, while leaves crunch underfoot, scuttle with a faint scraping sound on the sidewalk, and the wind blows them about overhead like confetti.
Here, the air is very dry; yet fall feels juicy to me. Put your nose up against a plum or a peach at this time of year and you can inhale the scent of ripeness. Fall’s like that: before the withering is the harvest, the abundance, ripeness that matures and mellows. If winter is darkness, then autumn is the evening, a magic time when the light is in-between, not quite one thing or the other. It’s this feeling of the ‘what if?’, or the excitement of the possibilities that stirs and motivates me. (And then, naturally, in winter I hibernate!)
Autumn is full of good, juicy reading like War and Peace, or A Fine Balance, or A Tale of Two Cities, perhaps Middlemarch. It’s the season to introduce hygge and sink into a deep story or two.
I took a little hiatus from blogging in August and enjoyed a few days at the lake. Fires were still burning out of control in the mountains around us, and smoke hung over the valleys, obscuring the distant views of the Kootenay range. I dipped into a memoir, Only In Spain, and then sauntered through Sense and Sensibility, by Joanna Trollope, a re-telling of the Jane Austen novel. 
Trollope’s novel is fun, while also being a comment on modern manners and sensibilities (and insensitivities). While I read, I constantly pictured Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson delivering the dialogue, a casualty I guess of my having watched the movie version a million times. And having read the Jane Austen original more times than I can count, you might suppose that the plot would have bored me. But Trollope, a personal long-time favourite author, skillfully draws out the new dimension to the characters. While they are recognizably based on those in the Austen, they live, interact, and react in a modern world. Robert Ferrars, for example, appears overly concerned with fashion and society in Austen’s book; in Trollope’s era, his sexuality isn’t disguised from the reader. In fact, Trollope calls his wife, Lucy, his ‘beard’. And, where in the Austen novel, ‘social media’ was, in fact, all those country dances and balls, in Trollope’s version everyone texts and posts on Facebook. (No need to have your sister tighten  your corset, or have the maid singe your hair with heated tongs: no need to get dressed at all, since no-one can see you sending a message in your jammies and with your bedhead.)
My other beach read was a travel guide to Greece, and it felt like the perfect complement to sun and sand. Of course, I could feel the heat of the sun on my skin, and the cadence of the waves on the shore, so it wasn’t a stretch to look at the luscious photos of Santorini and make the imaginative leap. Beyond the gorgeous scenery, though, it was thoroughly interesting dipping into the text here and there, and learning about the history and the fabric of Greek society.
Inspired, I have picked up Frances Mayes’ A Year In the World for another read. Some books offer up new facets of themselves with every reading, and I think this is one of them. I’m early on, just starting the section on their travels through Andalusia, but reading this book is like opening up a little treasure chest of satisfaction and delight: so beautiful!
With this, I wrap up the Dog Days of Summer Book Club for this year. I hope you will join me again next year to contemplate our summer book selections. In the meantime, I’ll be blogging on my website, so please check my home page for new musings and writing. 
Tell me your recommendations for big, juicy, fall reading, and may you have an inspiring, creative, and colourful fall!