Autumn, At Last

A dazzling autumn morning lifts my spirits -
A dazzling autumn morning lifts my spirits –


By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Yesterday, September 22nd was the first day of autumn.  The weather in this part of The Heartland was picture perfect autumn weather of a sunny day followed by a cool night.  I embrace autumn weather.  After the insufferable heat, humidity, and lack of rain in August, I surveyed my parched front lawn and mused about how it resembled toast.  The lushness of a rainy May and June had given way to the dog days of August.  The only thing good about August is my nephew’s August 4th birthday.  In the oppressive heat of August I am always helping my daughter move:  For her four undergraduate years we loaded up our SUVs to heave and ho into the dorm the first two-year], and then into the sorority house, and finally into a house with six other sorority sisters.  This past mid-July to August involved a move to a domicile for graduate school.  At least I feel reasonably certain she is staying put for the next three years of law school.

In the aftermath of the wretched heat of August came autumn.  The weather is, in fact, on the cool side, but I am not complaining.  My feeling is that we are able to don extra clothing in the chillier weather, but we can only take off so much of our garb in the hot weather, unless we lived in Saint Tropez, or frequented another beach town that turned a blind eye to sunning al fresco.  On yesterday’s first exquisite day of autumn,  I dined with my darling daughter at a charming bistro in her new town. This morning I smiled as I put on a lightweight jacket and ventured outside.  The sun shone brightly and perked up my spirits as I reveled in another autumn morn.

Ciao for now.


Stormy Weather

In the 1980’s I lived in Houston, Texas. Having lived through glacial cold and snow throughout Midwest winters, Houston’s sunshine and great blue skies seduced me.  The ravaged palm trees from last year’s hurricane may have looked paltry to the natives, but to me the trees were exotic.

Cover of "The Night of the Iguana"
Cover of The Night of the Iguana

My Houston euphoria continued, until the humidity of late April hit me like the heat out from Tennessee Williams’ play, The Night of the Iguana.  I sensed a summer of humid discontent when, after stepping out of my morning shower, I began to perspire. Houstonians had managed to air-condition much of the city.  However, this became a moot point as I sat in stalled traffic on Houston’s labyrinth of freeways. Exhaust fumes only added to the oppressive heat.

Nothing, though, prepared me for Hurricane Alicia that summer.  In Indiana I hunkered down in safe places during tornadoes, but hurricanes were a different sort of animal.  Friends clamored for me to weather the hurricane in their home.  My cat Bruno was a concern; he despised car rides. “Brunsie” liked new places even less.  Friends counseled me about taping large X’s across my apartment windows.  I dutifully filled up the bathtub with water to flush the toilet in the event of a power outage.  I raided supermarket shelves, filling my cart with cans of tuna, sardines, peanut butter, bread, crackers, anything I could open with can openers. Since my particular brick building was on higher ground, with my car parked under a carport nearby, I stood a good chance of riding out the hurricane barreling towards the Gulf coast.

Hurricane Alicia on August 17, 1983
Hurricane Alicia on August 17, 1983 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three days later, Holy Hell broke loose.  My first clue was Bruno’s pacing like a non-stop vigilant sentinel throughout the apartment.  He was impervious to comfort, treats, and toys.  Terrifying winds gained momentum. I was sure B-52’s were landing when these winds tore off the carport metal tops.  The sounds were deafening, like a locomotive coming through our domicile.  For hours the hurricane raged.  Bruno’s pads were moist, a further sign of terror for us both.

Cat napping
Cat napping (Photo credit: popitz)  [This cat strongly resembled Bruno]
    At some point, I fell asleep.   The telephone rang.  My first thought was we hadn’t lost power.  Groggily I picked up the receiver.  I realized an eerie calm had settled over my neighborhood.

“Honey!  Do you know that your side of Houston is in the eye of the hurricane?” my frantic mother announced.

“It’s alright, Mama.  This is the first quiet in hours.  I love you.”

“I love you too.  Call me every couple of hours to let me know you are fine.”

“Alright, Mama.”

The aftermath of the hurricane was equally unpleasant.  Flooding, erratic power, downed live power lines prevented leaving home. Houston is below sea level; the houses lack basements.  This means that flooding shakes vermin and snakes from their underground lairs.

Hurricanes terrified me. Eventually, I packed up my cat and moved back to Indiana where we retreat to the basement during tornado warnings – no vermin in sight.

Ciao for now.