Autumnal Abandon
by Judy Davies

In New England, the days are growing conspicuously shorter now; the sun, pale and low in the sky. So why am I not feeling depressed over glorious summer's demise? Because as lovely as a balmy day in the sun can be, there is a tinge to the air now, of something just a bit out of control. I'm not sure what exactly it is that precipitates the change... the restlessness. All I know is, it's Mother Nature's time to abandon the discipline of the productive summer months, and run amuck!

Her winds rip around lonesome corners; fast-moving heavens shift from deep blue to an unsettled gray. Trees are shaking out their summer tresses to sit, and ponder how fat and full and green they will be next year, and all of nature, from darting squirrels to bulbs underground, are gathering food and storing up energy for the cold months to come. All one has to do is look around, to see that the natural world doesn't stay the same through the change of seasons, and unless one lives in a total climate-controlled bubble, we are affected by these changes, as well.

Being a sensual creature, I very much feel the pull of the ole harvest moon. In the summer I scramble around the marina where I work, or in my garden; muscles tight and skin kissed by the golden sun. I feel good in my shorts and tank tops, and I don't need to eat much. I feel a part of my surroundings. But as the days grow cooler, and sparkling beaches give way to books and movies, something changes internally. Tired of summer's hectic schedule, and of constantly holding my stomach in (so no one will have a clue that there is a woman's belly under my shirt, that would just love to bounce and frolic with every step) I feel the desire to slow down and give in to deeper urges. It presents itself in my lusting over pans of bubbling lasagna, having dreams of wading through a smorgasbord of Swedish meatballs, or sinking my teeth into a thick, gooey calzone.

Call it inner seasonal rhythm, the nesting syndrome, or hibernation (except that in hibernation one does not eat; unless you're a skunk or raccoon, who awaken intermittently during the winter to chow down...0K, so I'm a raccoon?) but there is a definite shift of priorities happening within me.

With the cutesy Barbie doll duds safely packed away in the attic, so too, do I put away all illusions of myself as that slender (well, pleasingly plump, anyway) beach girl, and look forward to those conveniently oversized, cuddly sweaters, that hide a multitude of winter-time sins. Like the squirrels in my yard, I begin hoarding autumnal larder: homemade chocolate chip cookies (none of those cardboard, store-bought fake-outs, please) pastry shop fudge brownies filled with cream cheese, boxes of Munson's chocolate creams... lemon and buttercream, to be exact! Old Mama Nature wants us to be protected from the freezing temperatures by adding layers of fat, I believe, just as the bear in its cave is protected.

I remember how cold I always was, as a skinny kid. I never wanted to venture outside in wintertime, unless I wore an expedition-grade parka. I was known to friends as lotta-loft Jude! (I will never, ever, put down thin people, because I was one, and I remember all too vividly, the taunting remarks that some people feel the need to deliver, to anyone whose weight isn't within certain narrow parameters; but I believe there is a balance to be achieved, and I feel much healthier since I have been able to put on some pounds.)

The evenings come early in autumn, and nothing seems sweeter, after a long day of work, than bringing home a wholesome New England supper, complete with mashed potatoes and gravy, one of those aforementioned desserts, and a warming bottle of Burgundy or Merlot. Surrounded by candlelight and luscious things to eat, I feel very much in harmony with the scheme of things. I may put on an Etta James CD... or some cool Coltrane... and allow the luxurious notes to wash over me. Eating what my mind and body want, feels like I'm listening to nature's basic urgings within, and my body shows me how happy it is, by filling out in soft curves... it almost seems to be smiling.

Sometimes, as I sit and relax in the evening, I become aware of the strong fibers of my blue jeans straining to contain this unruly womanhood, that is pushing against every seam. The realization hits me, that I have a long, New England winter ahead of me, with absolutely no threat of bathing suits or short-shorts, to spoil my enjoyment of being the earth mother I long to be. Breasts can grow weighty; hips and thighs can spread, when I'm in my XL J.Crew shetland. Oh yeah- -

Of course, I don't condone bingeing. Our bodies are a great gift, and should be taken care of. But I feel that stress, caused from the unreasonable fear of fat, or anything that might be harmful to us, for that matter, does more to shorten a person's life, than gaining some weight. The evening news' constant anti-fat reports (they would have us eating sprouts and cucumbers all year round!) is causing a backlash of people, like me, who are sick and tired of the media trying to frighten us, and suggest that they know what is best for us. Mother Nature has been around for a longer time than they have, she wants us to relax, and follow her tides...even when they may be somewhat wanton and unruly. If it's true, 'To everything there is a season,' then I would suggest there be a time for control, and a time for Autumnal abandon. Mangia!

Female FA