By Sharon Lynch
The world had turned grey. Monika and Jim were in the city for Jim’s medical appointment and Monika, good friend and neighbour that she was, had offered to drive him to the big smoke. And what a contrast between the place they left and their destination.
They had departed that morning surrounded by red and golden hills with the fall-coloured vegetation bursting out everywhere. It certainly felt like a different world from the one they entered three hours later.
While Monika drove, she and Jim exchanged memories of other autumns in other times. Because they had known each other since childhood, some of their recollections overlapped. Monika remembered looking out across the lake at the distant shore on fire with maples. Jim recounted walking with his children along their sideroad and how the kids liked to kick their small feet through the bright leaves piling up on the shoulder.
Of course for Jim food was usually top of mind, and he spoke with relish of the roasting turkey smells emanating from the kitchen and that apple pie sitting on the counter, waiting. One year when he was ten he had tried to sneak a small sliver but had been caught in the act before the deed was done. His punishment had been only one piece of pie instead of the usual second serving. He never tried that again.
Monika recalled coming into the house after a day of helping with the fall garden clean up. The wood stove was on and that combined with the roasting turkey had warmed her cold cheeks and made her stomach almost ache with anticipation of the big meal.
However today there was no turkey, pie or brightly hued surroundings as they crawled through downtown traffic, looking for a parking spot. Monika circled the block several times and then, she got lucky. A vehicle was just pulling away from the curb, and so she nabbed its place. Then, as the two walked along the sidewalk, heading for Jim’s appointment, they couldn’t help but notice all was not as grey as they had first imagined.
The spindly city trees had turned yellow, and here and there fall asters poked their purple heads through overgrown parking lots. The sun still shone here, just as it did back home, and its warmth seemed to perk up passersby. For indeed there were always passersby. People were everywhere. Because it was just after noon, office workers were sitting at outdoor cafes and benches, soaking up the rays. Monika wondered if they also had Thanksgiving plans.
She knew the lucky ones would be heading out of the city for the long weekend.
When she mentioned this to Jim, he reminded her of the long line of cars that snaked through Algonquin Park every fall weekend. City folk looking for a taste of nature, open sky and maybe a moose sighting. So while those people were visiting tourists, Monika and Jim were also visitors now, out of their usual element. Like the fall visitors in cottage country, Monika and Jim were taking in their city surroundings, looking for signs of fall colour amid the grey landscape. It took some effort, but it was there if they looked for it.
So the world wasn’t quite as grey as they had first assumed. Still, on the drive home, with the night quickly approaching, Jim pointed out a sky streaked with sunset and full moon rising. Imagine what it would be like, he said, to not be able to see the colours at this time of year. And imagine, Monika pointed out, to also be unable to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with people who mattered to you.
That won’t be a problem for us, Jim replied. After all it’s your turn to cook the turkey this year, right?