In Florida, a child of the northeast must go get autumn. You have to dress in it, put it on like a conscious choice. Otherwise, it will not come. It will just get lost in obstinate heat and humidity.
But there’s the need. You don’t spend 30 years up north without fall becoming cell and tissue. When the calendar moves and turns and slows, repeating the academic rhythm of getting back to work after a summer of carelessness — then the weather should cool and the pace should get more measured. Sweaters. Classical music. Woodsmoke and apples, butternut squash and crisp, cool, sunny skies, until November, when the lead lays into the clouds and presages snow.
The physiological need survives long after the schoolboy cadence of a year is gone, after the years behind you zip in a straight path down a highway instead of slowly curling back and over themselves, so you can see parts of them clearly. The disappointment thrives, stepping into stultifying heat, just running errands. But at the grocery store, salvation begins to arrive in bins.
Pears. Stocking up, molding a thumb gently into the flesh to feel some give as you put them in the bag, four, a half dozen. And then home, unpacking, must rinse one off and have it right away — the bright-musky, apple-cousin, almost apologetic sweetness in the bite-juice. A slurp, an aroma-borne memory. Summer sun in the fruit, simmered down into the bittersweet beginnings of decay. Time alone, the walk home from school, sucking cool air deep into my lungs and watching from the high ridge of my street as distant trees the hillside over sung a color-splashed death gasp.
The pear I saved from lunch. — Adam Barr