It's still August, but already I find myself thinking ahead. Autumn is coming soon, bringing with it longer, cooler nights, brisk and breezy days, and skies of moody, mottled grey or the clearest blue one can imagine.
Unfortunately in Italy – at least in the part where I now live – autumn is quick to pass. I sometimes joke that no sooner have a few leaves turned color than they're being blown about by the wind or steeping in a rainwater brew on the sides of the road. Here and then gone in what feels like an instant.
Along with winter, this is my favorite season. One of the things I love most is how the sounds of everyday life change. With the crisp, fresher air everything resounds somehow sharper and more clearly than just a few weeks – or even days – before. What was once humid and distant is now close by. What was muffled and hazy has become familiar and vivid once more.
Darkness falls early and the church bells ring deeper and deeper in the night even though their appointed hour doesn't change. I often hear them whether I'm strolling through the parking lot outside a Modena shopping center with my husband or if I'm home in Reggio Emilia, where the sound carries clearly from the chiesa at the end of my street.
The memory comes over me, an almost primal feeling, one without a proper context since the sound of these bells so different from the churchbells I heard in my childhood and my youth. The melancholy they carry goes to the heart of me and pulls me closer to my new home.
They chime for mass on Sunday as the sun rises clear of the buildings across the street from me. They resound in the morning after the rest of the city is awake – my cue to get up and out of bed when I've slept in too long. They call the evening hours as I pass through the piazzas on my way from one lesson to another. When they do, I feel as though I'm right where I should be.
In short, though I've never really known them before, they're welcoming me home.