Intersections – Pumpkin Summer
By Nicki Salcedo
You’re welcome for the warm weather. I’m taking credit. As soon as I joke about it getting cold and trying to find the silver lining by not having to shave anymore the weather turns on me.
“Was she about to be happy in the cold? We can’t have that. Send back the warm weather!”
I took out my razor again, grudgingly, and a pair of Capri pants. I’m not pulling out the shorts or we will have a blizzard for sure. Capris mean that I only have to shave 3 inches of front shin and the weather can’t tell if I’m happy or sad or hot or cold or French.
On Thanksgiving Day, the kids grew sweaty playing in the yard with their cousins. One of the kids even got a little sunburnt. In November. While being black. My mom turned on the air conditioning. Between the 68 degree heatwave and the bright blue sky and the turkey roasting in the oven, we were dying like that guy in the last two hours of ”The English Patient.” Slow and painfully from heat. Just days before December. What kind of madness is that?
I call it “pumpkin summer,” but have since learned that there are lots of terms for this last surprise warmth before the long winter sets in. Some call it Veranico, little summer. Others call it Gypsy Summer. I still have a pumpkin at my front door so I get to call it what I like. As a kid, we called it “Georgia.”
“If you don’t like the weather in Georgia, just wait 5 minutes. It’ll change.” Normally that’s true, but the first part of November was 40 days of rain in the span of 14 days. The weather did not change for two weeks. I thought Southerners were sturdier folk until I heard 14 days of crying and gnashing of teeth over rain. I will cry over spilt milk, but I won’t cry about the falling rain.
I love pluvial days. I love gray skies and rain. I also love hoods, capes, cowls, umbrellas, and boots. Low hanging clouds help me slow down. I don’t do that enough. The rain makes us pause.
I have a favorite memory of walking my oldest to school. She was four years old. We walked several blocks every morning regardless of the weather. We were always holding hands.
One rainy morning she looked up at me with a smile. “Mommy, this is your favorite kind of day isn’t it? A rainy day?” It was true, and she was my sunshine.
I’d told her that I never missed a puddle when I was a kid. If there was a puddle, I splashed in it. You can ask my mom right now, and she’ll still tell you it’s true. Rainy days with puddles are the best.
At the end of our 40 14 days of rain, a big piece of our favorite oak came crashing down in the storm. It looked more like a tree than a branch. With it went the power and communication lines and telephone poles. My kids experienced the joys of doing homework by candlelight and having a dance party by flashlight and piano.
The night the lights went out in Decatur might be worthy of a song.
We thought it was midnight. The clock said 9 p.m. Power had been out for 3 hours. We made big plans to eat all the food in our fridge. Without electricity all I could think about was the spoiling food and how it was our job to consume it. I don’t know why I think eating it is better than throwing it away.
We searched for candles. It turns out that I only purchase decorative scented candles. Not one plain functional candle in the house. We were enveloped in the perfumes of vanilla and Christmas and lemon and pumpkin. If you want to make yourself crazy, mix the scent of pumpkin and pine candles while the power is out. I developed “The Shining.” A novelist in the dark with my family going crazy because of a pumpkin scented candle. That can’t be a good thing.
Maybe there was a downside to all the rain.
My house should be a place for shelter from the storm. I learned my house only serves one purpose now. It is one big charging station. It wasn’t the darkness or the heat, but the loss of battery power on all of our electrical devices. The insanity didn’t come from the sound of chainsaws or the endless darkness or cloying aroma of pumpkin spice candles. The insanity came as we watched the draining battery power on all of our electrical devices. No one worried about the storm.
The rain left, the cold came, and the power got turned back on. It is Georgia. Then this week, it was summer, winter, spring. If you wait 5 minutes, I’ll tell you what season will happen next.
“Intersections,” the book, is a collection of columns from Decaturish.com and beyond. It is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.