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Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Constance Walker is the author of several Gothic and contemporary fiction works. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Ode to Autumn

Autumn is my favorite season – there’s an orderliness about it that I like and after long, hot sunny lazy days of “where shall we go, what shall we eat, what shall we do?” summer, there’s a return to planning in almost every part of our lives. It’s time to get back to the routines of jobs, school, family, and friends. As the Professor in my new novel, Storytime at the Villa Maria, believes, it’s really the beginning of a new year. And it is!

It’s goodbye to summer meals that you never felt like cooking and hello to thick vegetable soups and stews and lasagna and spaghetti. It’s hello to winter pears and juicy oranges and baked potatoes and hot cocoa in the evening, fragrant teas in the afternoon. It’s fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and sponge cakes and hot fruit pies. (Ella, another Villa resident, always baked “sweet apple pies” for her war-wounded veteran husband.)

Autumn has its own language of clothes:  it conjures scarves and jackets and gloves and heavy sweaters – Sophie, who also lives in the Villa, loves to knit them for her family and friends. It’s taking out that old soft sweatshirt that you’ve had for years – the one you swear you’re going to throw away “soon” but somehow never can because it’s your lucky sweatshirt that has so many good memories.

There are autumn words and phrases that convey feelings of home and family and peace and calm:  “Brisk” walks on city streets and country roads, “chilly” nights that require a blanket or afghan, “windy” days and nights like when, Ben, another character, has to retrieve the hat of a Villa resident that has blown down the street.

Even autumn light is different – somehow the sun is a deeper gold, the sky bluer and the clouds whiter and more distinct. The season’s colors – burgundy and crimson and deep yellows and purples and oranges are reflected in big pots of chrysanthemums and pumpkins, and golden tans, scarlets and dark green shades show in just-about-to, or already, fallen leaves.

There’s a refresh/reset button for people in September, October and November – it’s a getting back to order before the cold comes. It’s a vow to straighten closets and drawers, to read a book, to listen to the sounds and rhythms of the family. It’s children’s arithmetic homework, it’s taking care of the family and having lots of “sniffle” tissues in the house, and it’s a “must lose ten pounds before the holidays” promise to yourself. It’s getting back to old friends – Saturday night get-togethers for adults and board and electronic games with the children, and the promise of Hallowe’en fun for the kids and the excitement of many religions’ holidays to come.

Autumn is the beginning of everything in its place, everything in order. Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I look forward to it. I revel in it.

Autumn is…

The characters in Storytime at the Villa Maria are in the late-autumn/early winter of their lives, but that doesn't stop them from enjoying whatever the golden years may bring.

Dutch Apple Pie

1 deep dish pie shell (everyone has their own favorite way of making pastry) 
6 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples (I use a combination of tart and sweet apples like Granny Smith McIntosh, Johnathon Gold, Winesap, etc.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar. Packed
1/3 cup butter or margarine at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375F degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix the sliced apples, lemon juice, sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Place mixture in pie shell, mounding the apples higher in the middle.

In another bowl, blend together the topping ingredients with a fork or pastry blender until it begins to crumble. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the sliced apples.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the crust and topping are deep golden brown.

Storytime at the Villa Maria


Dominick, who married “the most beautiful woman in the world”…

Sophie, who is haunted by terrifying memories of the Holocaust…

Ella, who made “sweet apple pies” for her war veteran husband…

Tom, whose music lured women into his arms…

Artie, who is plagued by the ghosts of long-dead soldiers…

Frank, who can't let go of his yesterdays, though a better tomorrow beckons…

Join them and others as they gather every Monday night in the library at the Villa Maria to share their memories, their fears, and their dreams.

Storytime at the Villa Maria—the unforgettable book about life lived and still to be lived, and about the mysterious threads of joy and heartache and love that are woven into every life—including your own! 

A charming novel of senior citizens, storytelling, nostalgia, and a world gone by but not forgotten
Buy Links


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to autumn! You make the season come alive, just as you make the characters in STORYTIME come alive. I loved the book. I can't wait to try that apple pie recipe. Is it Ella's recipe or yours?

Unknown said...

Thank you -- appreciate it.

The pie is my own recipe -- Ella has her own.

Thanks, again.

Constance Walker

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