As someone born and raised in southern California, I've never really experienced the change in the seasons. In Los Angeles the seasons are marked by holidays and store displays rather than changes in weather.
In L.A. you know summer is over after the Labor Day weekend has passed, and it is officially autumn when the grocery stores start advertising Halloween candy and sending out Thanksgiving advertisements. To get into the spirit of the season we break out our collection of orange plastic leaves and toss them on the dining table as though they have blown in from an open window.
Here in Provence l'été is over, and l'automne has announced itself in a rather more tangible way. While our friends in Los Angeles are sweltering in 100 degree (F) temperatures, we are experiencing cooler, windy days with the occasional rain, thunder and lightning storms. The swimming pools are closed for the season, and the stores that were opened all day for tourists are now fermé for a proper three-hour déjeuner.
This is agricultural country, so the weather drives much of life. The vendange is nearly complete, bringing an end to three weeks of dodging tractors filled with grapes on the school run. Melons and other summer fruits have disappeared from the market, and the quaint sound of shotgun fire can be heard at dawn signaling that la chasse has officially begun. We were told that if we plan to take walks in the countryside this time of year we might want to wear bells and orange vests to avoid being mistaken for un sanglier.
And while we don't have the autumn color show of New England, the leaves on the vines are turning from green to shades of amber and orange, and the cafes and fountains are sprinkled with golden fallen leaves. It is a welcome change from year-round evergreens and endless stretches of watered lawns.
Of course anyone reading this (assuming anyone actually is reading this!) in a place that experiences a proper autumn will wonder what all the fuss is about. And to our friends on the east coast who are already thinking about snow blowers, all I can say is "bon courage!"
l'été = summer
l'automne = autumn
vendange = the harvest
fermé = closed
déjeuner = lunch
la chasse = the hunt
un sanglier = a wild boar
bon courage = an expression to wish someone "good courage"
All Images © 2014 Ken Wallace Films LLC. All rights reserved.