Melancholy and Industry

On it comes, fall, my favorite season (do I say that every season?). In yoga class today, when we did the tree posture, holding up our arms and crooking our legs, I looked in the mirror and everyone actually looked like bare-branched autumn trees. A human forest.

Things to do to jump into fall. Pull the late season carrots, whiskery and somewhat cork-like.


At the same time, admire the mess the deer have made denuding the garden. How did they pull all those bell peppers from the plants so delicately, leaving the plants intact? They left the one sunflower standing, hanging down its giant brown head.

sunflower hanging

Make plans to attend a show – we don’t do the theater too much but Romeo and Juliet is rolling onto the boards for the hundredth time, this time with movie cutie Orlando Bloom, and we’re gonna hoof it to Broadway. Maybe I’ll even be able to pull on some shoes, with a healed, streamlined foot.


What else, in fall, what are the timeworn threads of coziness you begin to weave back into your life? Put fresh sheets on the bed, the flannel ones. Shake out the comforter that’s been shoved in the closet all summer. Burrow in.

Read the first college paper of the year, if you’re lucky enough to have a student nearby. Maud’s concerns a melancholy subject she’s been attacking for her anthro major, the proliferation of descansos, roadside shrines in New Mexico. Her photos of the sites are filled with a lonely beauty.

maud shrine

The comic Louis C.K. plumbed the topic of melancholy on Conan O’Brien recently and I loved what he said about the “fall back to school depression feeling,” how he was driving in his car, listening to a Springsteen tune on the radio, getting that “forever empty” feeling, that “knowledge that it’s forever and you’re alone.” It’s a mental state I remember so well from college, and also bouncing back with insane gladness, that as Louis said “you’re lucky to have sad moments.”


Two things from college that I still resonate to all these years later, melancholy and industry.

So in fall, when it gets cold and lonely, make something. Get out the trusty sewing machine, unearth some ancient fabric, make a simple pillow cover. One that Oliver will cuddle up to.

dog pillow

Read a new book, or revisit an old one. It’s a good time to take another look at The Catcher in the Rye – sure, an old chestnut, but with a Salinger book and movie coming out a good time as any to see if the author’s a genius or a shnook. Or both. And he knows from melancholy.


Nourish yourself. I’m stewing beef with onions, those garden carrots, garden onions and beer, not wine, because that’s what I have in the house. And fall’s about what you have in the house.

pillow fabric


Filed under Art, Cooking, Culture, Dogs, Fiction, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Photography

4 responses to “Melancholy and Industry

  1. A dog needs a formal coat when it’s time to roll around in the mud.

  2. Ann, over here on the other coast, close to Portland, Oregon, we have not had one day over 95 since last summer.
    Not that we mind!
    And Fall is in the air. The nights are getting cooler, there’s a hustle to the squirrels, and my dog is putting his winter coat on.
    He’s a Border Collie. He’s putting on his formal best.

  3. All sound good, especially the cinnamon. My goal is to take a good walk by the end of October.


    Fall into a new hobby (no yoga for me).. maybe calligraphy? Fall into the scents of cinnamon and apples (baked oatmeal .. low cal with applesauce in it). Fall into a comfortable weight-loss routine before son’s annual visit (to catch some AZ Fall League baseball). Fall into shorter days and cooler temps (after the hottest summer on record, with an average daily temp. of 95.1, calculated by combining daytime highs and nighttime lows.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s