This is one of my favorite songs, especially when Nat King Cole sang it.
To me, it holds the nuances of autumn, a transition from summer’s heat and greenery to displays of colored leaves. St. Francisville, being north of us, seems to have more colorful leaves, but there are enough in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas to provide a show. I read once that the most colorful leaves occur when there is a long spell of cooling weather, because instead of leaving the leaves all at once, the chlorophyll leaves slowly.
I like to change my interior décor according to the seasons, and the living/dining area in my home is now filled with decorations from leaves and fall vegetables on the mantel to autumn arrangements on the dining table and a serving table behind it. A runner I purchased many years ago has pumpkins and other symbols of autumn. I use brass candlesticks and a candelabra with candles in a rust shade. There’s a bowl shaped like a leaf on the coffee table with fake acorns, a candy holder shaped like a turkey with candy corn in it, a bunch of colorful leaves in a large pottery basket, and a wreath on the front door.
Since I don’t expect company until Thanksgiving Day, people may wonder why I go to all this trouble – it’s because I was brought up to live in as gracious and pleasing way as possible, despite the amount of money available.
I once lived in what the girls and I still call the “rotten apartment.” It was in a quite nice complex, which still exists, in a very nice neighborhood. The apartment across the hall, rented by two decorators, was a picture of creative taste.
Mine, however, had an avocado sculptured rug that looked as though it had never met a vacuum cleaner. Three walls were a shocking pink and the fourth bright orange. Still, since I might end up living there forever, I determined to “rise above it,” as my Aunt Roberta would advise, and to behave as though I lived in a tasteful place.
Three of my daughters still lived in Baton Rouge and I wanted them to know that true friends don’t stop seeing you when you have fallen on hard times. I began a series of small gatherings on fall Sunday afternoons. I would call people and invite them to come at five.
“It’s not supper,” I would say. “Let’s just say you won’t be hungry when you go home.”
I would make a hearty soup, have slices of ham and roast for sandwiches, some favorite dips, and liquor with the appropriate mixers. Most of the women had been in the apartment but none of the men had. As each walked through the door, his face had the same expression as did all the others. I knew he was thinking about the parties at my former home with sometimes as many as 200 guests, two bartenders, waiters passing hors d’oeuvres—the whole works.
I could also see them resolving that if I could entertain them here, they would make this one of the best parties I’d ever had. They told wonderful stories. They waited on the ladies. They spent quality time with my daughters. They brightened our spirits and warmed our hearts.
Not long after one of these gatherings at Calandro’s, I ran into a woman who was one of those who gloated over my troubles. I am not exaggerating this. I got many calls that made this plain.
“We’ve heard you have Sunday afternoon parties,” she said.
“Just good friends for little gatherings.”
Oh, but the–.”
She recited the names of well-known people in Baton Rouge in a tone that was a cross between puzzlement and a desire to be included.
“As I said, just a gathering of friends.”
Instead of depressing me, I was sad for her. My friends were there, not because of their wealth, prominence, or the good they did, but because we had bonds made from similar interests, similar viewpoints, similar ideas about honor and humility.
I cannot see how one could form true friendships in any other way.