Mid-September Mindset

Here I am in my wistful beginning-of-autumn mood, embracing earlier darkness, chilly mornings, old sweaters, red wine, and heavier dinners. Morning hikes are alive with creatures filling up on seeds, scurrying to the next possibility.

This summer went so fast, a refrain I’m hearing from everyone I know. Whoosh and it was over with barely enough time to grill a few dinners, watch the stars come out on warm nights. But I don’t mind. This is my time of year, the slide toward falling leaves and long, cold nights. I can feel myself turning inward. Quiet.

Much as I sometimes try to be a woohoo-let’s-have-a-party person, that isn’t who I am. A small group of family or close friends is as close as I’m going to get. We used to throw great parties in this house, full of people who worked with us or were parents of our kids’ friends, or even the kids’ friends themselves. Gradually, those kinds of parties gave way to something else. Colleagues got younger, we got older, interests grew further apart. I fought that for a long time, but the way we are seen changes over the years. The older we get, the less a younger person finds us hang-out worthy.

The quieter days leave plenty of room to get more comfortable with who we really are, the us beneath the daily façade that got us through so much in our twenties, thirties, forties. For me, that means being comfortable being someone who doesn’t do small talk very well, who relishes deeper conversations about the big issues without fear or anger over someone else’s disagreement with my opinions or experience. In fact, my curiosity over how other people come to their conclusions about politics, religion, and how to inhabit this world is at an all-time high. 

Where to have these deeper conversations? Around the dinner table. Cook food, pour wine, and the conversation usually flows. No guarantees, but even if the conversation stays on the surface, there is still the intimacy of a shared meal in a private space that at least opens the door to more.

So, off I go to find the candles that can sit on the table, the table cloth that my friend Suzannah designed with bare-limbed trees and a full moon – or maybe the one that my son Shawn gave me for my birthday one year, with a black Celtic design against a purple background – and some recipes that will fill the house with incredible aromas. I’ll remember what everyone’s favorite dishes are, if possible, and offer those up during the next several months. I’ll find some good Bordeaux for my husband Mick, who loves that kind of wine, or maybe some good Tempranillo, which we both love, and uncork a bottle just for us to sip on while the crickets do their fall chorus.

And I’ll get comfortable with myself, snuggle into the soft sweatshirt my daughter Abby gave me for my birthday, brew some strong coffee, and enjoy that shifting, golden light as it washes over everything.

all photos by kcmickelson 2022

Published by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

Kathleen Cassen Mickelson is a Minnesota-based writer who has published work in journals in the US, UK, and Canada.

10 thoughts on “Mid-September Mindset

  1. Lovely, Kathleen. And I can feel the shift myself as we close out our time on the Oregon Coast before returning to Bakersfield, CA. Tell me about the Tempranillo you and Mick like. xoA ❤

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    1. Thanks, Annis. Mick and I didn’t drink Tempranillo until we had a bottle a few years ago at a Persian New Year dinner at a place in St. Paul. You wouldn’t think that’s where we learned about a Spanish wine, but there it was. We don’t have one particular label we go to, though.


  2. A beautiful read, Kathleen, setting the mood for the season. I’m not quite in the warm sweater, hearty meal frame of mind yet but yesterday I did gather the lightest summer clothes together to put aside until next year. The photos are a perfect counterpoint – the Goldfinches, the egret – lucky you! – and the wildflower meadow, my favorite. Asters, Echinacea and Rudbeckia, I love it!!!

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