I love autumn

Cordially invited

On a quiet, still-dark morning in late September, my mother put on her robe and slippers and padded down the hallway to the kitchen to prepare dinner. From my bedroom I heard her rummage through the cupboards, open and close the refrigerator, and turn on the faucet. I heard the clamor of pots and pans. The teakettle whistled.

A short time later, my mother returned to her bedroom. My father lay sleeping, oblivious to the goings-on. He didn’t notice when Mom unplugged the portable TV and wheeled it out to the kitchen.

The clock on my nightstand read six-thirty. The calendar said it was autumn, but it felt more like summer. I searched my closet for something to wear. I was glad for the school day. A chance to get out of the house. My mother took her cooking seriously, and Dad and I knew to stay out of the way.

We lived on Lages Lane that year, in a white split-level with a car in the driveway and a charcoal grill in the backyard. The main rooms were on the upper level. The lower level had a family room, a laundry, and a small space that Mom used as a pantry.

My mother fixed herself a cup of coffee, and made a sandwich for my school lunch.

The kitchen had a curtained window that looked out on the front lawn. There was a table with comfortable chairs, a doorway that led to the formal dining room, and another door that led outside to the driveway.

A freestanding dishwasher waited by the window. To run the dishwasher, Mom had to push it several feet over to the sink and hook it up to the faucet. For some reason which I have long forgotten, this setup had made sense.

Leaves fluttered to the ground as I walked to the bus stop. When I returned home in the afternoon, there were rib roasts in the oven, and a pot of chicken soup simmered on the stove. The cakes Mom had baked earlier in the week were defrosting on the counter. The house smelled all at once meaty, earthy, spicy.

At sunset, family and friends sat down with us to celebrate the first night of Rosh Hashanah.

The guests nibbled on pâté while Mom served bowls of soup, and carved the roasts into thick slices arranged on a platter.

We clinked our glasses and wished each other a happy new year.

After the guests went home, I put away the leftovers while Mom loaded the dishwasher. Then we sat in the dining room and ate cake.