This time of year in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, something shifts in the atmosphere. It’s very slight, but also very noticeable. The sun’s patterns begin to change, the nights get a shade darker, the air oh-so-graudally begins to dry out. The mornings are a tinge cooler, the evenings a little more comfortable. It’s not so much that the seasons begin to change this time in August as much as it is the fact that summer is simply coming to an end.
I’ve seen this subtle transformation take place in different parts of the world, and I’ve seen how different cultures respond to it. In Kyrgyzstan where I did my Peace Corps service, the people of the Chui Valley start the canning process, preserving their fruits and vegetables while the harvest is plentiful and healthy. Beets, onions, berries, cherries, pickles, carrots and peaches. All of it stuffed tightly into jars with salts and seasonings, sugars and spices, stored away for those long winter days and nights that are not too far away.
In South Korea, you know summer is coming to an end when you start to see red chili peppers drying out in the sun on top of blankets and tarps spread out on the sidewalks. No doubt these fiery delights are being prepped for the autumnal kimchi crop, soon to be packed into clay pots along with a variety of salts and seasonings where they will ferment with a mixture of cabbage, scallions, and sometimes dried fish, all part of the age-old process of producing one of the country’s traditional side dishes—a product of huge national pride.
Yes, there are many ways the world reacts to the end of summer.
This year in our home, the end of summer coincides with our continuous home decorating efforts. Our bare condo is slowly showing signs of warmth and comfort, and even though our work would have taken place no matter what time of year I purchased and moved into the place, the “nesting” activities only further emphasize the coming fall ahead. Just a few days ago the new braided rug arrived for the master bedroom, covering the hard bamboo floors with a cushion of softness and traditional coziness, reminiscent of my childhood days growing up in rural Minnesota in a home full of beautiful braided rugs, often with a dog lying on top. Of course, now that I am on my own the dog has been replaced a cat, but the tradition of creating an inviting sense of warmth that was so prominent in my childhood house continues in my “adult” abode.
I’ve even noticed my music playlist gradually changing. The Nicki Minaj, Enrique Iglesias, SWAAY and Jason Derulo tunes are being swapped out for James Taylor, Nora Jones, The Zach Brown Band and Alison Krauss songs. And alas, the kitchen table is not being spared either as it sees less watermelon and more spaghetti squash.
Summer is ending. What changes are you making as you prepare for the transition into fall?