A Touch of Fall


I took this photo the other day at Whole Foods, 340 River St., Cambridge.  If you’re reading the post on your Kindle, you won’t see the brilliant orange color of these pumpkins, but the shapes themselves will convey, I hope, a taste of the season tiptoeing its way through Cambridge, Mass., and environs.

My grandson, 3, had his first day at preschool last week.  My daughter outfitted him with the required knapsack, and he headed off armed with a booklet they’d printed out for him, showing all the rooms of the school and his teachers.  It looks to be a brilliant place, ready for a brilliant little boy. He told us stories of his teachers and the names of his new friends.  Last night when Darlene and I went over for supper and presided over the bedtime story and going-to-bed ritual while my daughter went to a meeting, my grandson was on about his fourth wind of the day, running circles Darlene Jamesaround the apartment, talking earnestly to his precious cloth friend, Ducky, and informing us which books would be suitable for reading in the big chair in his room.  My delight was to read him the Robert McCloskey classic, One Morning in Maine. At about the point in the story where Sal and Jane and their father take the boat to town, I felt my grandson’s head gently settle against my chest.  Darlene got to read The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, and I enjoyed the sound of her voice so much I recorded this AudioBoo on my iPhone.  I love Thing One and Thing Two.

My other pre-autumn delight has been rowing on the Charles River from the Cambridge Boat Club. On Sunday I passed my “Captain’s Test,” which means I now row a big-boy Club Single instead of the tubby training shell, an Alden star which I rowed for 50 miles, grateful for its stability.  But it was too heavy for me to launch on my own, so Darlene had to come each rowing day to help out.  Now I’m rowing a Club Single named the Barbara Goodchild, and I can very carefully maneuver it from its rack and down the ramp to the dock all on my own.  It’s a wooden Graeme King shell, probably about 20 years old.  I have not yet discovered a reliable sense of balance in it, but yesterday I rowed all the way upstream to the Northeastern Boathouse and back without catching a crab and ending up in the drink.  I love the feel of the smooth, old wood when I towel off the Goodchild in the rack at the end of a good workout. And being out on the leisurely curves of the Charles amidst the precise power of college eights preparing for battle – well, that’s beyond words.

I hope fall has touched your life with the bittersweet joy of endings and beginnings. It’s a spectacular time to be in New England, or anywhere.

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