Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Blues

RHYS BOWEN: It has just hit me that it is officially the end of summer today. Every year it's the same. I look back and ask myself where it went. What happened to those picnics I planned beside the ocean or in a leafy glade? What happened to long afternoons sitting in the shade sipping lemonade and reading? I know I can't really complain. I did spent six weeks in England and Greece and France. Then I was on a book tour, all over the country.

But it's the winding down I'm whining about... the lazy days by a lake with all the time in the world like you see on the commercials where they catch fireflies. The communing with nature. The drifting in a canoe or sleeping under the stars. They never seem to happen. (Maybe it's because my frightfully British husband hates picnics and hates camping even more. The one time we took the family he complained of being cold all night and went out next morning to buy a sleeping bag rated for the top of Everest. He's never been camping since.)
And now autumn is upon us. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. And approaching winter.  I've never been a fan of winter. I suppose I look upon it in a Robert Frost type of way--the harvest being brought in, conscious that the days really are growing fewer for me and my friends.

So tell me, Reds and Readers: do you look forward to fall? Do you enjoy it? And please answer the age old question that worries me every year. Am I allowed to wear white after Labor Day.

HALLIE EPHRON: I keep thinking it's going to be fall and then we get the weather report - another hazy humid 90+ degree day. Can't wait for the air to turn cool and crisp. The problem with fall is that it's too short. Before you know it it's sleeting and then snowing and if we have another winter like last winter, I'll get a lot of writing done because I'm not leaving the house.

LUCY BURDETTE: I totally get your sadness about passing of time, Rhys. Although, like Hallie, I do love fall. What's made a huge difference for us is that we migrate to Key West when it gets cool--we just don't do winter any more, not in New England anyway. Didn't one of our guests last week talk about how he used to hate going back to school? It was my favorite time of year--new clothes, new teachers, new books--I loved it. I think that nostalgia helps with each approaching Labor Day!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: It's all I can do to stop myself from buying huge packs of  lined notebook paper and a new --what did we call them? Binder? With little hole punch reinforcements that you lick, and TABS.  Love tabs. I just cannot get over how quickly the seasons go by, though. Summer simply did not exist this year.  I guess we're all used to that rhythm of back-to-school, and there's a feeling of passages when it arrives, even if we're doing exactly the same thing. With sweaters.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I love all the seasons, passing in turn. As much as I might sigh for a visit to Lucy's Key West in February, I wouldn't want to live anywhere without a full four seasons. Fall is back-to-school, with all the energy and change that that engenders. It's also less yard work, letting the garden die down, and-after a few frosts-not having to worry about ticks when I'm out walking the dogs!

The end of summer always, always feels like it's too soon, and that things have been left undone. I try to treat it like that last half hour before the guests arrive: what hasn't been done, won't be none, so you might as well move on and concentrate on all the fun ahead!

And Rhys, I stand firm on the no white after Labor Day rule, with the exception of tennis shoes, which always got a pass. Sure you COULD wear white shoes or white jeans in September, but what's the point of changing seasons if you can't change how you dress? I love the idea of things in season, temporal pleasures that come and go. So there are no more white shoes...but here comes pumpkin-spiced latte!

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I wish I could feel wistful about the end of summer, but, quite frankly, I'm ready for this one to be done. Missed one family trip because of a sick senior cat. The kiddo got the flu, which turned into pneumonia and we had to cancel another vacation and his camps. Then we were planning on a last hurrah makeup trip — and I went into my second round of pneumonia. I've also been trying to finish THE QUEEN'S CONSPIRATOR due in (yikes!) less than two weeks, and also gear up for the launch of MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE on October 27 — all with a kiddo at home, who'd usually be in camp or outside playing.

You'd better believe we're all going to be toasting the end of the summer of '15 and raising a glass to fall and new beginnings!

P.S. White? What is this color of which you speak? Seriously, New Yorkers don't wear a lot of white, even in summer....

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Rhys, if you would prefer not to lament the passing of summer, please come spend August in Texas. We are always desperate for that first nip in the air, for pumpkins and crisp mornings and a hint of woodsmoke. Of course summer does go too quickly, but as usual it's been too hot to do most of those things I daydreamed about last winter anyway...

As for white, I just got a new fall clothing catalog that featured a model wearing white jeans and shirt with a faux suede jacket. I think we can safely be rebels and throw out the "No white after Labor Day" rule!

RHYS: I'm with you, Debs. White when you feel like it. And Susan, I know, I know. I can't tell you how many times I've been to New York and felt like a peacock in the hen house because everyone else is wearing black and I'm in pastels! But this me in a white leather jacket at an upscale boutique when I was on tour with Cara Black. Luckily it was a tad too tight as the price was $2500 and I would have been sooooo tempted!

And Susan, you deserve a long fall break! And Hank, I used to love going back to school too, although we wore uniform so there was never the thrill of new clothes.

So who else looks forward to fall? And who else does NOT like pumpkin spice lattes?


  1. Unfortunately, it seems like time is always passing too quickly . . . wasn't it only the other day that we were saying summer was just around the corner?? [Fortunately, my daughter and grandchildren spent several of the last days of summer with us so we had lots of fun before school bells begin ringing again. And I have to agree with Hank, it's really hard to pass up those pencils and tablets and new books and all that goes with a new school year.]

    Since I most likely failed to wear anything white all summer long, I'll probably not wear it after Labor Day either, but I see no reason folks can't do that if they want to . . . isn't summer fashion more about sleeveless tops and shorts and all that sort of thing rather than white???

    I do love fall with the leaves changing colors and the crisp air and maybe even a sweater again . . . and the pumpkin spice latte is okay, too, but it's never going to tempt me to give up mocha.

  2. First day of Fall? But it's still raining in Tucson!

    I do like fall, but I like it better back home in New England. I'm not sure we have fall here in Southern Arizona. The oranges are ripe in time for Christmas, though. So there is that fall orange. I guess.

    I'm sorry. I love pumpkin spiced latte with two extra shots of espresso. One of our sons hates it, because he can't stand pumpkin, but he was shocked to learn that there isn't any pumpkin in it. He still hates it.

  3. Wow Reine, I bet you're buzzing after that concoction! I agree, fall in New England is spectacular--though the Christmas oranges sound good too.

    Joan, so glad you got a last hurrah with your daughter and grandchildren! great way to go out of the season...

  4. We get a lunar eclipse and harvest moon on September 27th.

    The mums have bloomed, the bright pink asters are starting to bloom, and it's still 90 degrees with humidity to match every day. The sycamore and birch trees are already dropping their brown leaves

    I made the last blueberry muffins of the season with fresh berries. It's time for fresh apples, including local varieties that make wonderful pies. And apple cider from the local farm.

  5. Yes to white whenever you want--just mix it up with fall colors for a truly 'now' look--or so says the magazine I read last night. It also said everything is now pumpkin-spiced (instead of berries), and all the spreads featured Halloween decorations. Hate hate hate the end of summer--it seems to get shorter every year. Love cooler nights, the turning of the leaves, that back-to-school rush (me to boys: Don't you need more notebooks, a ruler, highlighters, pencils? But they're old enough to do their own school shopping. Sigh.). I do enjoy the turning of the seasons, but the thought of enduring those long months of bone-chilling cold? Not so much.

  6. I bought my first white jeans ever last summer, and I did get a lot of wear out of them this year. But I'm much more drawn to fall colors, and always look forward to wool sweaters and darker tones.

    Fall is my favorite season, and back-to-school was always fun. Having an October birthday probably helps, too, right, Hank?

  7. Oh, fall, yea, though I live in the valley of central Florida, I miss it so. We will get some 'fall' by Florida standards, cooler temps and lower humidity, but not for another month. We're lucky enough to even have a 'winter' here - temps dip to the freezing levels and orange growers run the water through the night. No more smudge pots. As a child we spent time in NY and NJ. I love fall and the bursts of color as the leaves change, the difference in the air and humidity, and the sheer wonder of buying all those great school supplies (I still stock up in September, don't you?). But the best memory I have of fall is going to visit relatives in upstate New York during apple season. The air tasted like wine, full of apple scents. Most farmers had stands set up at roadside with bushels of apples and a sign for how much they cost (if memory serves, about $2/bushel) and you left your money under a conveniently provided rock. Made your own change too. Honor system.

  8. Blueberry muffins! Definitely a taste of fall. And out of the blue I felt the need(!) to make oatmeal cookies. Found a great recipe for oatmeal cookies with coconut. Left out the nutmeg and added raisins. Next time I'll add chocolate chips. Here's the recipe:

    Doesn't feel like apple season yet. But the eastern peaches have been fantastic and are sadly coming to an end.

  9. I love fall, but I love summer more, so am wistful. Cooking the heck out of local produce for today's cookout, though: fresh corn/gold cherry tomato/basil salad, baba ganoush with grilled eggplant from the back yard, Caprese salad with all local, including the cheese, and trifle with local rum and local fruit. Not ready for apples and pumpkins!

    I'll be serving last-chance gin and tonics this afternoon, too. But I don't wear white either before or after Labor Day - I'm not allowed to actually (Personal Rule #5 - wearing white induces spills and resultant stains).

  10. Laurie Colwin, The Lone Pilgrim

    "Inspired by my surroundings, I indulge myself in this lazy, scene-setting kind of thought. For example: a big yellow moon; the kitchen of an old house in an academic community. On the window ledge a jar of homemade jam, a pot of chives, a cutting of grape ivy in a cracked mug. A big dog sleeps in front of the stove. If you open the window, you feel the crisp October air. An apple pie or loaf of bread is in the oven, and the house is warm with the scent of it. You wonder if it is time to deal with the last pumpkin, or to pickle the basket of green tomatoes...You are a woman contemplating seasonal change."

  11. Just a heads-up, a number of us are having trouble seeing the blog and posting comments... if you're having trouble too, we're working on it!

  12. Margaret T., I haven't read that Laurie Colwin. Is it a short story? Lovely...

    I know that our seasons in North Texas (you notice I always designate NORTH. Texas is a very big state with very different climates...) don't compare to seasons in New England or the Midwest, but we do have them and I love them all. Although I couldn't see last winter gone soon enough and it didn't seem like we had spring because it rained non-stop for three months.

    So I'm enjoying the last bit of summer as well as looking forward to what looks to be a particularly lovely autumn--as in temps dropping below the 90s by the middle of THIS week!!!! Glorious!

    And I just found a recipe for pumpkin ice cream!

    (And, Rhys, no, not fond of of pumpkin latte. Might as well drink a cup of sugar...

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  14. Laurie Colwin, "The Lone Pilgrim" in a collection of short stories entitled The Lone Pilgrim, c.1982.

  15. AH! The server is back up..hurray!!! I was inJungle Red withdrawal, and not able to connect. Yesh.

    FIrst important things first: I am not fond of pumpkin spice lattes. Yeesh. I think I am not fond of pumpkin anything except pie. Tarts. Pumpkin thats pumpkin. Bit I will defend to the death your right to drink them.

    White jackets, yes. White shoes after Labor Day? No. (And hardly even before.)

    Last chance gin and tonics, exactly. Tonight's the last. (But grapefruit/gin/lime martinis. Yes, year round.)

    YAy, Jungle Red is working again!

  16. White shoes? Never apart from tennis.
    And I'm so glad finally to be able to get into Jungle Red. Server has been down all morning.
    Margaret, I love your description. I want to be in that room!

  17. I'm standing at the edge of summer with arms spread wide to welcome my favorite season of fall. I've been champing at the bit for a couple of weeks now wanting to post fall and Halloween (maybe my favorite holiday) pictures. I have only posted one in deference to my friends who are less than enthusiastic about rushing the seasons. Now, well, hello to variegated leaves, pumpkins galore, and witches on brooms. Yeeha! Can you tell I'm in love with fall?

    Hank, I was one of those kids who was always excited about a new school year, too. It was so thrilling to buy new school supplies and going into store where fall clothes were arriving with their warm, inviting colors. There's a memory stuck in my brain of my sister, who was eight years older, driving me along a street after school had just started, and I can picture the exact spot where I savored the moment of fall and school beginning. Ah!

    White after Labor Day? I think those of us who grew up with wearing hats and gloves on Easter and that sort of fashion probably adhere more closely to not wearing white during the fall and winter months, or we might pause to think about it if we do. My father, who wore hats year round, used Labor Day as the stopping point for straw hats. His straw hats would be put away in their hat boxes, and the felt and wool hats gotten out. My daddy was a natty dresser.

  18. I love fall colors, and when the leaves fall, I'll get to see the little pond again. Right now I get to see wild critters scurrying to fatten up and store food. Winter vacation to warmth does appeal, but I'd want to see at least one snow before leaving.
    I'm looking forward to pumpkin pie spice . . . in a pumpkin pie, with the coffee in its own cup on the side. ;-)
    I think everyone should wear what he or she wishes. Break those rules! I don't do much in white, though, too hard to keep clean. I once asked a Dominican nun at St. Cecelia's in Nashville how they managed with white habits. She told me the children were usually good about washing their hands before hugging them.

  19. Fall is my favorite too. Spring offers all sorts of emotional goodies, feelings of rebirth, etc., but after the summers we have here in central NC, being able to go outside without sweating can't be beat.

  20. Kathy and MAry, those are such sweet stories! Aww…

    And Jim, many of us will be able to experience North Carolina in the fall, right? See you soon!

  21. Margaret, The Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin is one of my favorite books EVER -- even used a quote in our wedding almost 17 years ago!

    Thanks for all the kind wishes, Rhys and all. Fall is going to be a while new ballgame! (And yes, this will be a future post!)

  22. Although I'm not sure we can compete with the jaw-dropping colors of a New England autumn, this time of year in the Pacific Northwest can be almost as spectacular, with a nearly-guaranteed Indian summer in October before the rains begin and (one hopes) the snow starts falling in the Cascades.

    Rhys: years ago I told a friend I was going to Morocco for a day as part of my first trip to Spain. She handed me her credit card and said, "I was there and I so regret that I didn't buy a rug at the rug merchant's. Remember when you're on vacation: 'Buy the rug.'" So I took her credit card and bought her a rug (and one for myself also).

    So I say to you, Rhys: Buy the coat. You look fabulous in it. As Geraldine Page's character Sook says in the 1960s version of "A Christmas Memory": "There's never two of anything."