I did not need a calendar to tell me that fall arrived last Friday. Something else told me: that inner, primordial instinct to sock away tons of food.
This year, the instinct hit, oh, several days before the 23rd of September. It was on the Sunday. The temperature was hovering at about 13 degrees, decidedly cool for shorts.
"I'm going to make some chutney today," I informed the husband. "And then I'm going to can some peaches, make some soup, bake some bread and cook up three different kinds of pasta sauce."
"Hmm," said the husband. "Have I forgotten about some wedding that you're catering?"
No, I told him. There was no wedding - at least, not one that I could remember either. The cooking frenzy had nothing to do with a family reunion or a neighbourhood block party.
It was all about that itch some people have - primarily women, so far as I know - to stock the larder with all manner of goods.
At precisely this time of year.
I do not, of course, know why I do not feel this itch in November or in February. I do not know why the itch strikes, oh, for about four or five days only, prompting me to run through the produce stores and the supermarkets and the butcher shops like a mad person, loading my carts and baskets with snap lids and Mason jars. And approximately 51 tons of food.
"Oh, don't forget," said the husband, as I was heading off to shop. "We're invited to a barbecue tonight."
"Tonight! I said. "Well, you'll have to go alone! I don't expect to be out of the kitchen until 3 a.m., if I'm lucky."
"Hmm," said the hus-band, who never appears to recognize the itch, probably because he never experiences it, and would ignore it even if he did. "Is there some big snowfall in the forecast? I mean, one that's expected to keep us housebound for the next two years?"
"Not that I know of," I said. "I mean, it's not even October."
"A hurricane?" he asked. "Maybe a tsunami that will wash out the streets between the house and the supermarket?"
"Of course not," I said. "There's no way of predicting a tsunami."
"Then why," asked the husband, "are you planning to turn the kitchen into a soup kitchen? We have a barbecue to go to."
I rolled my eyes.
There would be no barbecue for me, I repeated.
There would, however, be chutneys made and loaves baked and peaches canned and pasta sauces simmered.
The arrival of fall means the itch has returned. The barbecue's just so July.