The beginning of Autumn in Sicily can be abrupt. The gradual changes from one season to the next are now a thing of the past, there are no more slightly shortening days or time for the leaves to go from greens, yellows, warm rusty reds or browns, now the fall begins with heavy rains and cool nights, whenever the gods decide.
One day you are sunbathing on the beach and the next you are pulling on your cardigan and sheltering under an umbrella. The first rains are capricious, sometimes drizzling, then pelting, blurring the mountains and threatening with ash coloured clouds and distant thunder drones, initially succumbing to the afternoon sun and the Scirocco.
The heavy breath of the Scirocco is a lethargic exhale held in cupped hands, a stifling African wind which saps energy, tickling the skin without any relief or pleasure.
This corrupted zephyr, fed by ancient Aeolus the keeper of the winds, ravages the land and utters its curse without any mercy. In the summer it whips up the thermometer, in September it teases as it ushers in the rains, in the winter it tries to deceive people into shedding their skins too soon. First, there is the flotsam and jetsam of the winds and then the storm begins.
October in Sicily means many things to the Sicilian’s table from fruits like fichi d’india, hazelnuts, mushrooms and grapes. Late ripening in this years season also means a tardy gathering of tomatoes, eggplants (aubergines), capsicums, chilli peppers and other summer fairs.
The insanity of August is easily washed away as Sicily gets back into its daily routine, children go back to school, freshly bronzed public servants are well and truly lazing in their offices and the everyday grind begins.
A new season is always a new beginning, it changes the sensations and assures as we are moving forward despite our want to stand still.
Autumn is like sipping a fine Nero d’Avola, smooth and deeply satisfying with a warm and fruity aftertaste that makes you wish more.