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Blessed Relief September 28, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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It is Odd that all the trees are so green, that some are now flowering just when the heat of summer breaks, when we throw open the doors of our converted shotgun and let the cool of autumn blow over us. I have lived where there is a true Fall, where a first freeze browns the garden suddenly and routs the mosquito’s, and the trees respond in kind, turning a crisp red and gold, rustling dryly in the wind like the leaves of a cheerleader’s pom-pom.

We do not live here on Toulouse Street for the weather any more than we lived in Fargo, North Dakota for the fine winters. When my wife and I first discussed leaving the East Coast and I argued for New Orleans, I pointed out that summers in New Orleans were just like those in Washington, D.C.: there was just more of it. That did not turn out to be a winning argument. Here on the Gulf Coast we swelter from March until October, air so thick you don’t breath so much as bathe in it, so fraught with water you’re not sure if you are dripping with sweat or the salty water of the Gulf of Mexico. For relief we have hurricanes, an excuse to flee north and inland to a place where nights in August can be, at least to us, refreshingly cool.

I have to admit that after 20 years split between the middle East Coast and the Midwest I do miss a real Fall with all the trimmings .While only the cypress trees promise a taste of the Fall color my wife misses desperately, there are other signs about us. Here at the back of town end of Toulouse we once again hear the bands and the crowds from the high school games at Tad Gormley Stadium. The serious neighborhood gardeners are as busy as the fairy tale ants, getting their planting beds ready for a change of seasons. The vegetable man in his brightly painted pickup truck changes his list if not his basic sing-song patter. He still announces “I got tomatoes, ripe red tomatoes” but lately I hear he “got potatoes, fresh red potatoes.” I’m often stuck on the phone when he passes on the days I work at home, but the first time I hear “I got squash and pumpkins” I may have to plead technical difficulties and flag him down.

One thing I think I will miss this year is the mysterious appearance of candy corn and (better yet) the little candied pumpkins and all their like. I understand that “we” are going on a diet, so I suspect that the magical appearance of a dish of fall candy that no one will admit to filling would not be met with exactly the same seasonal joy. I will have to wait for Halloween before I can get my metabolism into training for the holidays.

Fall on Toulouse Street is superficially not terribly different from other places I have lived with the stark exception of the turning of the leaves. The same sort of chores call inside and out, and must be scheduled around Notre Dame and the Saints. My wife starts to dig through the closets (too soon, I tell her, much too soon) looking for summer things to put away. She is possessed of a gene prominent among Midwesterners but recessive to the point of the vestigial down here, the one that calls them to fill the cellar with apples and the shed with firewood.

Here on Toulouse Street we do not take the sudden coolness as a call to arms, to the frantic preparations for the long and hard siege of winter. My spigots will not freeze if the hoses are left on. There is no seasonal retirement for the lawn mower or snowblower to get ready. I do not need to beat the first snow that will leave a yard full of leaves sodden with no prospect of enough warm sun to dry them out again. I have no apple tree from which to pick a dozen or more bushels and then figure out what the hell to do with a bathtub full of cooking apples.

That first cool morning is for us not an alarm but something more like the breaking of a fever, a sudden relief from the languid suffering we have just come through. It is not the signal for a frenzy of activity but rather a moment to move out of the sweat spot in the sheets and shuffle off to a comfortable chair, to slowly let go of the delirium of southern summer, to take it easy a few more days until we get our legs back under us.

Blessed Relief indeed.

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Comments»

1. Dr. A - September 29, 2008

Nice post….It’s been 20 years here for me and I still miss “real” fall too! and the good apples and apple butter!
You might want to go buy some of those little pumpkin candies (Brach’s mallow pumpkins and candy corn -3 for $4 at Walgreen’s) and save them for Halloween…..last year I waited to get those little pumpkin candies until right before Halloween (trying to be good) and they were sold out. I had to get an emergency supply from my sis in Va.

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2. norm-l - October 1, 2008

Just over a year ago we moved an employee to Holland, MI. Due to the press of work he is back on the Gulf Coast for a week helping carry the load.

I talked to him this morning as he was leaving a Panama City, FL shipyard after working up a good sweat. He told me he had just recieved a phone call from a Holland machinery dealer asking “When are you going to pick up your new snow blower?” The timing was perfect.

While the summers here are sometimes things to be indured, (and I’ve made it thru 44 since I moved here) I grew up on the Great Lakes, went to school in Maine, and worked on the North Sea. I never want to get a phone call that says “When are you going to pick up your snow blower?”

But fall apples and fresh cider was nice.

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3. Sophmom - October 1, 2008

Sitting at my desk today, I noticed that the top of the tree in the parking lot of the small office building across the street was beginning to turn red. Suddenly, when the wind blows, leaves twirl around with it. The air is cleaner. I am not looking forward to closed toe shoes.This is a beautiful post, Mark. Sorry about that whole diet thing. Yuck.

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4. Charlotte - October 1, 2008

Nice post. I wonder if we (New Orleanians) might not appreciate the cool fall days more than those who have a “real” fall season.
Regardless, I am happy to not have to contend with snow. Although I did love it as a child in Ohio.

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5. spokethecat - October 2, 2008

that was beautifully written. autumn here is like a cool drink of water after a long thirst and it makes me crazy for adventures.

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6. WUBA Ike Relief - October 3, 2008

Please note that the Paypal link for Ike relief is no longer valid. Please visit program sponsor Portlight.org to ensure donations go where intended

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