I love autumn. For me it’s a season of change—slightly melancholy but also, always, deeply and fundamentally exciting. To me autumn is the real new year. The riotous blooms and leaves of our planters and pots on the decks are beginning to change—becoming more sparse and more intensely green as the more sensitive ad brightly-coloured annuals like petunias stop blooming. The nights are cooler and quieter. Even the air whispers of change: it smells different, more briny, more alive, and it sounds different as the leaves become papery. The squirrels are fiercer and faster and less afraid of predators because they know winter is coming and they have to gather their supplies. Right around this time, too, hummingbirds morph from instant food-territory belligerence, particularly with each other, to mellow appreciation—sometime next month I’ll see two, or even three, who in June might have fought half to death, sitting together companionably drinking from the same feeder.
One change for me this autumn is finally getting a ramp built. And once it’s in, for the first time in six years I won’t worry whenever there’s a storm. When there’s a big storm here we lose power. When we lose power, my wheelchair lift won’t work. When the wheelchair lift won’t work I can’t leave the house—or enter the house if I’m already out when the storm hits. We’ve been lucky so far, in that storms have hit while I’ve been at home, and the power hasn’t been out for more than a few hours. But I worry. Every time. And soon I won’t have to worry anymore.
Meanwhile, we’ve had to shove all our plants together in a pile on the deck so the carpenters can get to work. So, for while, the pots look abundant again especially after it rains.
This year, for the first time in three years, the season marks the beginning of another round of book publicity. The first of my 2022 books, Spear, won’t be out for another six months but my first official gig is scheduled in less than two weeks: attendance at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association in Portland. While I’m there I’ll sign a couple of hundred galleys, meet booksellers, and give a presentation about the book at the big group breakfast.
Until Hild I’d never given a breakfast speech. I’m not at my sparkling best first thing in the morning so voluntarily eating socially while trying to blink myself awake would never have occurred to me. And wanting to listen to a speech while I ate my eggs? Eyebrow-raising. As for giving the speech, oh ha, ha ha ha! But then eight years ago the kind people at the PNBA asked me go down there to talk about Hild, so I did, and I had a lovely time. (Despite the day before being the first day of the Eight-Month Nightmare That Was Tecfidera-Induced Pain, and so being in shock for the whole thing.) And I think it made a big difference to the sales of the book. I mean, how can you not feel fondly towards those you’ve shared breakfast with? I certainly feel kindly disposed towards those who happily munched their eggs and muffins while I enthused about Hild.
So this year I’m actively looking forward to it. And I’m pretty sure this year there will be no nerve pain. And then I will come back to Seattle and happily zoom up and down my very own ramp, just because I can.