I zip up my jacket and pull up the Gherkin's jacket hood over her ears. Usually she protests (way too much!) but the nip in the air makes her decide otherwise. Once we are bundled up and warm, the two of us set off, me on foot and she in her bright green stroller- the one with brown leaves. It is the season of brown leaves, and gold ones and rust colored ones. The late afternoon sun filters through the few remaining leaves that still cling to the trees and washes the neighborhood in golden light.
The Gherkin babbles and gurgles about the Bo-Bo's (read dogs that go bow-bow) and Me-Me's (read cats that go meow-meow) that she thinks she will meet. This time of the afternoon is particularly quite. The driveways are empty, the children are in the school and the family pets are sound asleep in some cozy corner. Once in a while, the sound of a chainsaw ripples through the air, erasing out the gentle swish-swishing of a garden rake as it traces out a leafless path somewhere. The chainsaw manages to arouse a sleepy dog who lets out a series of barks in retort. The Gherkin is pleased and squeals in delight. And then it is all quiet again.
We stop to say hello to Samantha, the grey cat with the bell. She recognizes the Gherkin and shows off some of her tricks. She stands on her hind legs, then circles the stroller and nuzzles the Gherkin's shoes and finally settles down for a belly rub. A few belly rubs and gentle purrs later, we are on our way again. Samantha follows us for a while, but gives up when she realizes we are going a little too far, way outside her comfort zone, her quiet street.
Our next stop is the house that caught on fire, we always stop for a while here. The men renovating the house pause for a minute to smile and wave at the Gherkin. We wave back. And then it is back to the roof, the noisy drill, the insistent hammer and that jarring chainsaw. By now the sun has warmed us up and we ignore the nip in the air and keep walking. Today we will go beyond our usual route.
Today we will meet some new people, all of whom are busy cleaning their houses and yards in preparation for the holiday season. Today we will see the last of the Halloween pumpkins, their carved features slowing decomposing into morbid shapes on doorsteps. Today we will wonder what the impending winter will bring - snow, cups of peppermint hot chocolate, crackly fireplaces, walks through slushy snow in warm, fuzzy boots, woolen caps and woolen mittens. Now, where are those woolen mittens?
We hasten our pace. "We are going home now", I declare with purpose. Yes, we have a new purpose. Fall is pretty but it will soon be gone. And I have to find those woolen mittens and that favorite pair of socks before winter comes knocking on our door.