When Grace Falls

And here we are, thanks to a merciful Deity, once again in my favorite season of the year. Summer is my least fave, sorry to say, mostly because of the humidity and bugs, which are abundant in Maryland and can run from May to late September. The bugs are awful. At one point, I was sporting a brown recluse bite on one arm and a European hornet bite (“not very aggressive,” my bloomin’ aspidistra) on the other. Phooey!

A couple weeks back, we went from mid-90s and yucky one day, to low-40s and wonderful the next night. I woke up after that low-40s night and felt as if I’d been put on pure oxygen. Doing my 10,000 steps was no big deal, my mood was great, I got a lot done.

But being more comfortable when I exercise is only part of the reason I like fall. Because the humidity drops, the quality of the light changes, colors are sharper and contrasts more vivid. The hours of daylight no longer exceed the hours when I have energy to do stuff, so my circadian rhythm and Mother Nature are in better harmony. I sleep so much better in the fall. I enjoy a pot of tea so much more thoroughly in the fall.

I can open up my house–windows and doors, both–and work with a sense of being connected to the out of doors. I hear the birds, I hear my neighbor’s cows munching the fall grass, I hear when a squabble flares up among the cats on the porch. I do not hear, at least not as much, the lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and weed whackers that seem to drone on all summer.

I am no longer barricaded in my kitchen, a window unit air conditioner roaring all afternoon along with a box fan or desk fan. The quiet is scrumptious because it’s natural quiet. Yes, the crickets are still singing–slowly, tiredly–and the farmers are getting out the trucks and combines to bring in the corn and soybeans, but for much of the day, all I hear is nature. My stream trickling over the rocks, the dry breeze teasing at what leaves remain, an occasional rooster or barking dog.

One other aspect of autumn that makes it special to me: I know of nowhere that this weather is available year round. In San Diego, my parents had something close to perpetual summer. The seasons were subtle, but in any month, most days, you didn’t need to turn on heat, you didn’t need to wear a jacket.

Other parts of the world tend colder, but the spring and fall seasons are always just passing through. So I am wallowing in this glorious weather, and in gratitude that it’s finally here.

To three commenters, I’ll send advanced reader files for Yuletide Wishes, the novella duet I’m publishing with Christi Caldwell on October 22. If you could create a Camelot for yourself in terms of weather, what would it be?

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50 comments on “When Grace Falls

  1. Well, of course, autumn is my favorite season. Here in the Midwest, it’s glorious (until just before Thanksgiving and then we get what we get and some years it’s unseasonably warm or cold or rainy or snowy or windy or……somethin’).

    The golden sunshine and the gorgeous, dappledness of it because the angle of the sun hits the tops of still leafy trees just right, brings me such happiness. Rich and colorful trees, just before the leaves let go, are breathtaking. The sounds of crunching leaves underfoot–I’ve been known to go out of my way to get a good crunch in! The smell of fall, the coolness of the air and the vague odor of leaves as they turn color, has me sniffing.

    Cool and crisp days and cool and crisp nights have me reaching for my sweaters and favorite woolly socks–as much as I like my summer wardrobe, I LOVE my fall clothes! I love the rich colors and the beautiful fabric–I’m a sucker for interesting material!

    I long for the first hard frost, since that means my hay fever will leave until the spring. The frost will also help sweeten some of the veggies left on the vines and after the first frost, we harvest everything.

    Oh, and probably the chief reason I LOVE autumn so much–my BIRTHDAY is in October–next Tuesday in fact!

    • Well, happy birthday early!
      It’s a sensuously gratifying time of year, isn’t it? And that’s before we get to the use of cooking spices, spiked hot chocolate (or just decorated hot chocolate), scented candles, and as you mention–soft, cozy fabrics.
      I’m not as happy when warmer weather hits, to shuck down to my shorts and T’s, as I am to add the fleece, wool, and flannel this time of year.

  2. Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I’m use to the four seasons and rather like it that way. I favor Spring and Fall equally. Summer comes next. With air-conditioning it’s bearable. Winter is my least favorite, only because as I have gotten older, it’s harder for me to get out. And the short days of sunlight leave me a little sad. But I have ways of dealing with it. One of those is doing a lot of re-reading my comfort reads. I have to thank you for furnishing me with so many of those.

    • Thanks, Mary.
      I do winter re-reads and re-watches too. His Grace of Bewcastle is ALWAYS on my winter reading list, as is a good chunk of Loretta Chase. A couple years ago I bought a happy light, and it did seem to help get me through the January blahs. I set the alarm half an hour early, and lie in bed with that thing beaming at me full strength while I think about book-stuff.

      I get why some of our northern friends snowbird, but oh, for a place of perpetual fall, or fall and spring.

  3. I love autumn, too.
    I took a weeks vacation last month and enjoyed having me coffee outside on the deck with my two corgis. The temperature was perfect and the leaves were starting to turn color.
    Met a friend for lunch and we had a fabulous walk.
    Love the fall colors_ the yellow and purple mums add color to my front door.And the sunflowers are cheery on my kitchen table.
    I find I sleep better in the cooler weather and feel refreshed!
    My family is happy that I bake and there are brownies and treats on the counter.
    Fall is the season for me.

    • The colors are bright, the light is clearer, and because the leaves are coming down, I SEE more of that sunlight even inside my house. My Mom, who loved changing seasons but got stuck in San Diego, pointed that out to me. The days might be getting shorter, but for a few weeks this time of year, they also can get brighter.

  4. I agree with you – Autumn is my favorite season. I would be more than happy to have autumn 11 months a year with a few days of Spring and some really cold days scattered about to equal the 12th month.

    • That is a plan!
      My ski-happy brothers have friends who chase the snow. They bop from the Rockies to New Zealand, always looking for fresh powder, twelve months of the year.
      I think you can do that with winter and summer, but spring and fall are more elusive.

  5. A Camelot in terms of weather … not what we have been having, that is for certain sure! We are in a drought in my state. There were no spring flowers, the grass is dead, the few flowers I planted are dead. None of the spider lilies have made an appearance this fall. We are having a somewhat early fall with no color – the leaves are brown. We have also had few insects and fewer birds around. I saw two ladybugs this year, so I guess their annual migration missed us. We haven’t even had mosquitoes, because of the drought.

    I live in Alabama. In times of normal weather, spring is a riot of growth and color, summers are hot and humid and lush with growth and insects!, falls are cooler and dryer (a relief after the summer), and winters are mild with occasional and much enjoyed snow. And by occasional I mean once every few years.

    Of them all, I’d choose fall for the cooler weather, particularly after the baking heat of the summer we’ve had.

    • The climate change folks tell us the wildlife is migrating north, because of those droughts. I’m old enough to recall Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” published in the early 60s. Her science was based on environmental contamination, but looks like that’s not the only thing that should be keeping us at night.
      Will hope you get more normal weather, and not this alternation between drought and flood.

  6. I can never decide which I like better, spring or autumn. After a brutal winter with snow, ice, and freezing cold, I just love the first warm day when I open the windows in the house for the first time. But, after a sweltering summer, the cool days and chilly nights of fall make me very happy. Either works as Camelot for me.

    • You sound like my mom, who enjoyed the whole rotation, because just when you’re about out of patience with the cold/pollen/heat/leaf mold… the next season comes along. I’ve visited places like San Diego at every season of the year, and the monotony would drive me batty.

  7. Camelot! It used to be true here in the desert that the rain would never fall until after sunset (when the air cooled enough) and by 8am the clouds had disappeared. That was just lovely! Enough rain and it never got in the way. I have more rain stories but I would be getting off topic.

    My idea of perfect is a decent percentage of sunny days with temperatures in the low 60s. I really don’t mind some rainy days, though I prefer to avoid the torrential downfalls. I love needing a sweater in the evening, seriously!!

    • One of my brothers lives in the high desert and absolutely loves it. He re-arranged his life to be able to dwell there. Where he is, there’s some part of almost every day that’s just lovely, and it never gets over 100 degrees. And yes, the sweaters and hot tea and mesquite fires at night, but brilliant sunshine and beautiful clear air at high noon can be wonderful.

  8. Rain during the night, sunny 73 degrees during the day with a slight breeze. It wouldn’t get any better than that for me. No winter clothing, heavy coats, no snow, no extreme heat, no humidity. Just sunny and breezy.

    • I love moving air too. For much of the year, there’s a fan on in my bedroom, but the BEST times are when I can sleep with the balcony door wide open. My house has sleeping porches, and the whole structure is oriented to take advantage of the prevailing breeze as it comes up the valley. I love that about this house.

  9. Almost the same as Linda L (the following is her post with my changes):

    Light rain during the night, sunny 83 degrees during the day with a slight breeze. It wouldn’t get any better than that for me. No winter clothing, heavy coats, no snow, no extreme heat, no humidity. Just sunny and breezy.

    I live near Tampa and in normal conditions (unlike what has occurred the last few years), it actually doesn’t get either too, too hot (for me, at least) or too, too cold. I keep my A/C at 80 degrees and still sleep under a sheet and light quilt or blanket. I’m can get chilled when it’s below 80 degrees. When it’s in the low 70s or (gasp) 60s, I tend to feel like I’m freezing. My favorite season is summer.

  10. Happy Sunday! My Camelot would have a beautiful Spring without allergies, a warm Summer without fires and earthquakes, a Fall with a bountiful harvest and a beautiful winter. The temperatures would range from 40 to 90. I think it would be full of wonder and fun. Thank you for your great books! Have a blessed day! ❤️❤️❤️✉️

  11. My Camelot weather would definitely be fall, from the first chill nights and gloriously brisk days with amazing light, to the final deep chill and rain of approaching winter.

  12. Some magical world where there’s snow but it’s not cold!

    I love the winter best because snow is magic to me, but as an adult I have much less tolerance for the cold than I did as a kid, plus I’m the one that has to clean the windshield off 🙁

  13. Autumn is my favorite season also. I would have liked a more gradual change to the cooler weather. In my area we went from the 60’s straight to the 40’s.

  14. Spring and fall are both favorite seasons but I think I like spring slightly better. I enjoy seeing the earth come to life with all the beautiful flowers and blossoms. Because of the drought this is our second fall where many of the leaves turn yellow and fall off the trees.Yellow, green and brown can’t compare to past autumns of glorious golds, oranges and reds. Summers in the SE have become unbearable with the unusually high temperatures and humidity.

  15. I like weather where you have to wear at least a sweater and a light jacket/coat. I enjoy wearing gloves or mittens and a scarf. I love seeing the changing colors of the trees especially when the sun is setting.

    I like natural air conditioning and being able to breathe fresh air, but like a warm to snuggle into at night.

  16. It’s a toss up between spring and fall for me, but spring edges fall out by a bit because of the wildflowers in spring. Although, fall does bring relief from the brutal summer heat, so the temps are very welcome. My Camelot weather wise consists of low humidity, moderate temperatures – ideally highs no higher than mid 80s but cooling at night to 50s or 60s, rain definitely allowed and encouraged, but with plenty of sunny days in between the rainy ones. It’d be amazing if there were a way to naturally reduce the insect population with this weather as well.

    I really enjoyed Love and Other Perils, Grace. Kisses and Catnip was lots of fun. Thank you!

  17. When I picture a perfect place, I have a lot cabin in the mountains stretching out over a cliff witg floor to ceiling windows, a constant Christmas tree up, snow on the ground and a fire in the fireplace! Winter is my favorite!

  18. My Camelot weather would be temps in the mid 60’s to the low 70’s with a nice breeze, say 10-15 mph,during the day and lows in the mid 40’s to the mid 50’s. I too love Fall. We’re getting another cold front on Wednesday as the predicted high is just to be 68°. I’m prepared this time around however and I’ve got plenty of reading material. I’m reading Christi’s latest The Minx Who Met Her Match right now and loving it.

  19. I just love autumn, end of the too hot season, return of my favorite earth colors and the period of anticipation before the end of year holidays.
    The right weather to be cozy with a good book

  20. I live in Los Angeles, so I share your parents experience. But I have to say, I love going back East for Fall and Spring. Having grown up in Nebraska, I miss seeing the leafs turn colour, and the crunching sound they make under foot. During the summer Nebraska also has humidity, much like I experienced when I was living in DC. How can you have 110% humidity and no rain?

    But, before I start to sound as though I am boo-hooing all over myself, tonight was the first night I was able to drop the top on my LBC and take a drive and be chilly! Warm hat, driving gloves and the analogue radio playing the oldies! So lovely!

  21. My Camelot always involves snow. I envision at least six inches of snow or more on the ground, a few snow drifts, and gently falling snow that isn’t due to stop anytime soon. No one is in danger from the weather, as everyone is home and safe.

    I’m well-stocked with food for myself and my kitties, and when the day breaks, I’ll put birdseed and nuts out for the birds and other wildlife.

    Sometime during the day, my kitchen will be filled with the smells of homemade soup, as well as the chocolate chip cookies my daughter loves.

    I’ll have lots of good books to read at my side, and my kitties will snuggle with me to keep warm. Finally, I’ll go to bed and get under the covers while wearing my favorite set of warm pajamas.

    All is well in the world as the snow continues to fall. In the darkness and stillness of the night, the entire house sleeps.

  22. I feel exactly the same. I spent too many years living in Florida, but returned to Virginia a decade ago and relish fall when the oppressive burden of summer leaves and I also turn off the window units, open the windows, and bring out the heavy blankets. I saw research recently that you do sleep better when it’s cold. I could have told them that without an expensive study. My husband is officially removing the air conditioners from our windows today.

  23. I’ve always loved the fall colors. The glorious reds, oranges, purples and multiple shades of brown are just gorgeous. Here’s hoping for a long, comfortable fall and a mercifully short winter.

  24. I am also from the Midwest and am torn between Spring and Fall being my favorite season. Winter is my least favorite.

    My personal Camelot would be a place where I could be outdoors year round without it getting above 82 or below 57 degrees. It would rain only at night and never flood. There would be only mild breezes and no damaging winds. The insects would be a minor nuisance with no carriers of deadly viruses.

    I would be able to ride my bike without worrying about getting hit by crazy drivers and kayak in bodies of water without alligators.

    If only I could find and be able to afford this place I would retire there. Ahh to dream.

  25. Camelot of Weather would have to be where I live now. As a Child I grew up in the snowbelts of Buffalo NY. We had to often where snowsuits UNDER our Halloween costumes and wade through 6 inches of snow to go trick of treating. Once March and April arrived we had the season of the mud then 80 degree weather once it was June. I always missed Spring in Buffalo. NOW I live in Limerick PA, a little place in SE portion of PA in Montgoermy County. It is a town that is enjoying the same glorious fall as yours, Grace, but even if it is a snowy winter, as snowy as the winters at nearyby Valley Forge from 1779-1782, it will be nothing like the Buffalo Blizzard of 1977 and many other winters of my childhood that literally lasted sometimes for 6 months. We have Spring and mostly medium to mild winters (after 10 years, I still have not seen a white Christmas, which mildly saddens me) and we have GLORIOUS Fall colors. As a northerner, I find the hot summers sometimes burdensone, but then I just get to go to my daughter’s house and swim with my Grandchildren so right now, LIFE IS GREAT! Hope you have a Happy Holiday Season, that the Autumn fortells!

  26. Living in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada My favourite season is summer. While fall sounds wonderful in your hometown here, we almost never get to experience it. This year we had our first major snowstorm from October 9-11. Heavy wet snow caused 1,000s of homes to be without power for days. Seems like we go from summer straight to winter lol. Our winters are extreme as well.

  27. My weather Camelot is 60 degree days in early October with blue skies and the foliage colors of red, yellow, orange and brown. It is cool enough for a sweater or jacket. All of my senses are engaged and I can smell a distant fire of burning leaves. There is only a slight breeze, just enough to make my hair wispy.

  28. For me, my Camelot would be pleasant varying between 40F and 72F during the year. Cool enough not to need A/C, but warm enough where you wouldn’t get ice. Dusting of snow only sometimes. 🙂

  29. I think I’m in nirvana right now as I am visiting Utah after the longest, hottest summer in Atlanta I can remember. The air is clear, brilliant sun, nearly no humidity. I am in heaven!

  30. I do best with low humidity and temperatures in the low to middle 70’s. Many years ago someone mentioned that there are some islands in the Caribbean that have that type of climate because of the trade winds. I have a preference for spring, because of all the flowers and flowering trees putting on a beautiful show. I have said I could live without the cold and clammy weather of winter and the hot and humid weather of summer. I would visit occasionally, but I could live in a world of mild spring or fall weather.

  31. I live in San Francisco. I’m originally from the Midwest and to me San Francisco feels like perma- fall. The one exception is September and October when it is summer!

  32. I love fall, last year our son was so sick and in the hospital we could not enjoy it. What a difference a year makes, we now have a healthy son and I get great joy in seeing him run and being a boy. Your books were loaded on my phone last year and were little bits relaxation while dealing with him being in the hospital for 4 months. Thank you.

  33. I love fall and have always loved fall. I think it comes from a combination of school supplies and my birthday. But recently I was down in Arizona for the first time and suddenly the snowbird lifestyle appeals. I love the desert, and have spent time in different desert areas, but the weather and the landscape combined in Arizona was a delight. So, to my surprise, Camelot would probably look like Arizona.

  34. Living in central Florida, it’s still HOT. I miss autumn so much. I grew up in Virginia so I know what it’s supposed to be.