Skipping Seasons and Other Such Nonsense

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm not even going to address how late this blog is. I'm still posting once a week, and everyone knows that rules are for squares, anyway.

Instead, I am going to discuss something much more exciting: IT IS FINALLY AUTUMN.


This summer has seemed really two. First: four months baking in the oven of central Texas. I listened to the news the day  before I left. Days over a hundred degrees this year: 73. And this was still with a month of summer left. I kid you not. And to think the whole summer I comforted myself with the thought of Italy and cooler weather. Which brings me to Summer Number Two: Almost a month and a half of 85-90 degree weather here in Florence. This, as I gather from my homestay mother, is unheard-of-hot for September (and October). Between this and the ridiculous winter in the Northeast this past year, the weather gods have been particularly vindictive this year.

Needless to say, I am thrilled about the changing seasons. Although, to be honest the seasons don't seem to have changed so much as apparated. The high temperature dropped about twenty degrees in the space of one day. Still I am excited.

On the first of October I tried to explain my excitement to my homestay mother. But, as is so often the case in Italy, it was not the Italian words that failed me, but the acute differences in culture.

To me October 1st marks the beginning of what we in America call the Holiday Season. Aptly named for the three holidays that occur one each month for the last three months of the year. And the first of October is the day on which pumpkins are bought, costumes acquired, gravestones dusted off, and scarecrows set out on the front porch. It is officially Halloween.

Here in Italy, Halloween is an American/British import, but not a dominating one. Though you are likely to find a small space devoted to decorations in the Tutto 99 store, you are unlikely to see the decorations actually displayed anywhere.The Florentines do not decorate for Halloween, there is no smell of spices in the air, and not a pumpkin in sight.

This time last year I was in Sleepy Hollow, NY with some friends, enjoying a typical American October weekend. Complete with a picturesque old house and pumpkins. This sort of scene does not seem to exist in Italy.

And after All Saint's Day, there is not another holiday until the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. The holiday season, it seems, is quite different here.

In the end, I found myself resorting again to an oversimplification of the truth: "Christmas is soon."

A confused frown instantly became a delighted smile. "Ah yes, Florence is beautiful at Christmas, the lights, the smells . . . "

Some things can't be translated, they must be lived. But then, I suppose if all things were translatable, no one would travel at all.

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