A lyric poem for an autumn Sunday

Yale Hollander is a dad, husband, legal professional and writer whose works have appeared in a number of local and national publications. He is currently a trustee of the St. Louis Jewish Light, however the opinions and viewpoints he presents in this blog are strictly his. Follow him on Twitter @yalehollander.

By Yale Hollander

It is September.

I am roused from my early Sunday morning slumber by the drone of the neighbor’s leaf-blower, and I am distressed.

My ire is stimulated not by the rude awakening but rather by the reality I too must attend to the detritus of pin oak that will soon blanket the backyard and patio, and with an implement far inferior to the gasoline-powered crucible that is shrieking and belching fumes into the breaking day.

I rise and prepare my breakfast, brew the coffee and settle in with the newspaper, hoping to enjoy a moment of tranquility before my beloved arises to greet me with a heartfelt, “You know that maple bacon smells up the house for days, right?”

Cleverly, I withdraw from the conflict by announcing my departure for the supermarket, for the hunting and gathering must be done lest we consign ourselves to forage among the ruins of Thursday night’s Chinese takeout or a severely freezer-burnt parcel of hamburger (or was it flank steak?).

I am ushered into the supermarket by the overwhelming fragrance of cinnamon wafting from the display of seasonal door decorations — is that supposed to be a broom or just a random assemblage of twigs that have been soaked in Glade bathroom spray?

And there are gourds. It’s decorative gourd season, my friends.

I encounter the display of rotisserie chickens and as I inhale deeply the succulent aroma of herbs and rendered fat, my mind conjures up a sepia-toned tableau of my beautiful family seated around the dinner table, anxiously awaiting my presentation of an expertly carved and plated bird ready for their eager consumption.

And then I am jostled back to consciousness as I am reminded that nobody in my house likes dark meat. I purchase a bag of frozen chicken breasts and push on past the happy young couples strolling the organic food aisles as they lick the foam from their pumpkin spice lattes from their lips and carefully examine packages of quinoa…or spelt…or whatever it is that is sold in the organic food aisles.

The freezer cases in the meat department, which just a week ago it seemed were teeming with every variety of bratwurst, have yielded most of their sausage-based real estate to turkeys. We are still at a point in the year when Independence Day is closer in time than Thanksgiving, but there they reside all pale and bulbous and shrouded in plastic skin and yellow plastic netting that can slice a generous sliver of your finger right off if you’re not careful.

But I mustn’t dwell on this. I have items to fetch from the dairy case, and as I reach toward the back of the case to retrieve the gallon of 1 percent milk with the most distant expiration date stamped upon its neck, I come across six letters alarmingly out of place for this time of year.


I flee to the checkout lanes, stopping briefly to survey the “Seasonal Items” aisle, now resplendent in black and orange and filled with several hundred cubic yards of “fun size” treats. I consider relocating a few bags of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups to a remote and rarely visited corner of the frozen food department for retrieval during the Nov. 1 clearance sale, but my sense of ethics kicks in and I resign myself to another year of stealing from my children’s haul after they’ve gone to bed or gorged themselves to the point of violent illness and swear off the stuff, at least until the next day when it will be too late.

I return home to face the leaves, laboring intently to move more than four or five at a time with the paltry breeze issuing from my electricity-sucking blower. O dratted orange cord — how many times shall you disengage from your power source or become entangled betwixt my feet!

Inside the house a television displays the athletic exploits (or lack thereof) of the local footballmen. I take little interest for they shall either remain in our village, their futility enduring, or they will travel westward and win a Super Bowl within two years.

Night falls. 

The children slumber away in their beds, no doubt dreaming about wonderful, fanciful things until the break of dawn awakens them to the sudden recollection of an unfinished history project that’s due at 11 a.m.

I retire to my bed where I listen to the silken saxophone of John Coltrane accompany the smooth, smoky voice of Johnny Hartman as he croons “Autumn Serenade,” over the muffled roar of the air conditioner as it struggles mightily to keep our home comfortable despite it being nearly 90 degrees at 10 p.m.

It is September.