Friday, September 24, 2010

Autumnal Yearnings

I love living in Turkey. It has been my home now for going on ten years. I love my job, the food, the travel opportunities, my friends, my students, the shopping. For most of the year, I never really think about the fact that I "live abroad" or that I live in a "foreign" country, but when fall turns, my yearning for the home of my childhood and early adulthood is strong and severe.

Lately all of the foodie blogs that I follow have been including recipes that are autumnal in their origins, commencing my three month lament over not being back in my homeland for fall. One of my oldest and closest buddies taunts me every year (it has become a funny tradition) where she, on e-mail, takes a break to have a "sip" of her pumpkin spice latte, and even adds a "ahhh" before getting back to her message, leaving me in the throws of fall withdrawal. Starbucks is all over Turkey, yet they don't do the seasonal drinks that the states has. When I was home last fall, she promptly put a pumpkin spice latte in my hand and bought me a Starbucks gift card, carefully tucking it into my bag when I wasn't looking. Upon finding it at when reaching into my wallet to buy some coffee, I was so touched by this gesture that I threw my arms round her right there in front of everybody. Every time I reach for my original Starbucks mug, loamy brown in its color, I am whisked back to that brisk fall morning at Pike Place Market with my oldest and closest friends.

Soon after we were married, Koray went to Philadelphia for a conference in October and was mesmerized by the vivid reds and oranges that blanketed and painted the campus. He was finally able to see for himself why fall has such a special affect on me. Knowing I was missing this seasonal splendor, and much to my joy and surprise, he brought back a grocery bag full of bright red maple leaves and threw them all over. The earthy smell made me dizzy. I framed a few of the leaves to display when it finally turns brisk and golden here in Istanbul.

It was just about this time last year that my yearning for a North American fall was at its peak. I couldn't stop taking about it and thinking about it so Koray encouraged me to book a ticket to spend a week back across the Atlantic. The draw of the seasonal change was unbelievably strong last year and through my dad's illness I was brought back to my homeland and reunited with many people that I love and hadn't seen in a while and I was able to experience my beloved Washington fall. Being back in the US for Halloween was a bittersweet treat on its own. The colors were seemingly technicolor in comparison to the muted yellows and browns of an Istanbul fall. The air was brisk and people were bundled up, leaves blanketed the streets and I was home again. The crisp, clean, cold Seattle air invigorated my lungs and helped to clear my head after spending days with my dying father in the hospital. For the earth, fall is the season of shutting down and hibernation, last fall was for me a season of connection and growth, regeneration of spirit and of healing old wounds. In fact, it always has been something to me. It is my season.

And my season isn't here yet. Summer still lingers and heavier layers still wait upon the shelves in my closet. The nights, though, are chilly, and I did see the harbinger of fall, the white crocus, shooting up in our front yard today, and fresh chestnuts are beginning to make an appearance, so I do have peace that cooler days and re-birth are not far away.

If you are in North America, send fally thoughts my way as you kick through the sanguine splendor of the seasons' glory.

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