I never knew if my birthday fell in summer or in fall. Every year it was different, sometimes tinged with the hot glare of summer, despite being stuck in school (which was always exciting, anyway); sometimes the leaves had already turned and I could immediately wear the new sweater I received as a present. This year it was definitely summertime, in the 90s and with a night that didn’t cool. The celebration lasted more than the usual week, with a belated road trip to Los Angeles and a stop at the Madonna Inn. Their pink champagne cake is my two-year old self’s only desire.
This time of year, when the weather is mysterious and wavering, is my favorite time. Indian summer, that liminal season before the cold stays for good, after the sun has shut one eye. When the stickiness in the air gives way to smoke and dying leaves. Liminal like twilight, when the sun extinguishes itself in the big puddle out west, lights flicker on in houses built into mountains, neither dark nor light outside.
“I find myself stressing the fire because fires were important to us. I grew up in California, John and I lived there together for twenty-four years, in California we heated our houses by building fires. We built fires even on summer evenings, because the fog came in. Fires said we were home, we had drawn the circle, we were safe through the night.” — Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking