Category Archives: Autumn

Time for a New Toothbrush

There is an old Jewish tradition of leaving rocks on gravestones––I think to mark your visit. Seth and I left these two stones at the marker of my family’s plot in Westbury, New York, on Wednesday. It’s our first visit since my dad died in February, 2017. It was strange and sad at first, to sit there in the grass atop my father’s resting place. The cemetery was our first stop once we landed in New York, but then we got ourselves up, got a bite to eat at a diner where the chowder is Manhattan style (red, tomato based), and afterward we went to a garden center and picked up a small trowel and two celiosa plants blooming purple flowers and we returned to the cemetery with a project: I planted the flowers, one on the side where my dad is buried and one on the side where my grandparents are buried, and Seth began cleaning the stone. We didn’t have much with us to do that, but there was water nearby and I offered the toothbrush out of my backpack and so Seth brushed the green algae off the black granite stone, brushed the letters, brushed the carved image of St. Anthony of Padua, and it was good to have these projects. Dad, Grandma, Grandpa––they all appreciated things clean and orderly, and so I know this simple act of cleaning and planting would be appreciated, even now. Afterward, we lay there in the grass a long time, Seth and me… and then we set those stones atop the gravestone, said our goodbyes, and headed off to visit my cousin in Brooklyn (Brook-a-leen, as my Italian grandparents would have pronounced it). Our trips are usually like this: visits to family and friends, living and dead.

The day before, I was at my mom’s house, mowing the lawn. I like this task. It is a job that reminds me of Dad, for it’s something we did together often. Many times this summer while I’ve been there tackling this job, riding the mower, thinking of Dad, a big wood stork would fly down from the heavens, land by the pond near the house, and there the bird would stand or sit, at the bank of the pond, under a tree, watching me. Large wading birds are not uncommon in the swampy lands near the family homestead, but to see a wood stork is rare. This one, though, he’s been coming around since July. We have our almost weekly visit together. If I get too close, the stork takes a few big steps away. He’s a good four feet tall, and so his stride is large. But I look at him lately and I wonder where he’s come from, and why he’s chosen to hang out at our pond. I’m glad he’s there.

But that’s back home in Florida, which is not where we are now. Your Convivio Boys are on an autumnal jaunt, and if you know us, you know jaunts are not something we do often. First stop is New York, for just a few days, then onward to Maine. I’ll write when I can.


Oct. 31, 1928, or your October Book of Days

I can’t remember not loving Halloween. The magic of it, the stories and specials on TV, the smell of the cabinet where we stored the hobo hat––all these things I remember from my earliest days and hold dear. And that may be why I look forward to autumn each year: the apples, the pumpkins, the particular slant of light of October. And while I have no idea who the kids are in this photograph, the one on the far right may just as well be me: If I wasn’t dressed as a hobo wearing that hobo hat we kept in the cabinet, most likely I was Charlie Chaplin. There were only a couple of years that I ventured away from those tried and true Halloween costumes.

Whoever these kids are, they are your cover stars this October, welcoming you to your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for the month. The caption on the back of the photo is handwritten Hallowe’en Oct. 31, 1928, using the old spelling, the one with the apostrophe, the one more closely related to Halloween’s true name (All Hallow’s Eve), the one that helps us better remember the connexion of this magical night to the Days of the Dead that it ushers in each year: All Hallows on the First of November, All Souls on the Second, all the way to Martinmas on the 11th. These are the days known as I Morti in Italy, Dias de los Muertos in Mexico… the days when we remember all who have come and gone before us. In so doing, we keep them with us. And that is powerful magic indeed.

This time of year, we’re here, there, and everywhere. Come see us at one or more of these events or sign up for one of our book arts workshops!

Real Mail Fridays: Apple Social
Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University’s Wimberly Library
Boca Raton
Friday October 5 from 2 to 6 PM
We’ll have a mini pop-up shop of autumnal goods.

Florida Day of the Dead Celebration Kick Off
Stache Drinking Den & Coffee Bar
Fort Lauderdale
Friday October 5 from 7 to 11 PM
We’ll be there with a mini pop-up shop of traditional handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos from Mexico.

Family Fun Day: Ofrenda Art Exhibition Opening
Fort Lauderdale Historical Society
Fort Lauderdale
Sunday October 7 from 11 AM to 3 PM
We’ll be there with a mini pop-up shop of traditional handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos from Mexico.

Autumn Makers Marketplace
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton
Sunday October 21 from 10 AM to 4 PM
Pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos plus our full line of Shaker herbs & teas and more.

Calavera Prints!
Linocut workshop with John Cutrone
Jaffe Center for Book Arts
Thursday evening October 25 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM, preregistration required.

Booook Arts 101: Hist Whist
Workshop with John Cutrone
Jaffe Center for Book Arts
Sunday October 28 from 1 to 5 PM, preregistration required.

Florida Day of the Dead Celebration
Friday November 2 from 4 to 11 PM
Downtown Fort Lauderdale
We’ll be in the Craft Crypt at Huzienga Park on East Las Olas in our own tent with a pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos from 4 to 7:30 PM.

Dia de los Muertos Lake Worth
Saturday November 3 from 3 to 10 PM
Hatch 1121 and Downtown Lake Worth, west of Dixie Highway
Our favorite! Find us in the courtyard at Hatch with a pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos, Christmas, and everyday. We’ll be there for the full length of the celebration.


Autumnal Arrival

How was the weather where you’re at yesterday? It was St. Matthew’s Day, a traditional weather marker:

Matthew’s Day, bright and clear
Brings good wine in the next year.

St. Matthew’s Day comes with or near the autumnal equinox each year, and this year, that moment of balance arrives tonight on the 22nd of September: Here in Lake Worth, which is currently in Eastern Daylight Time, we enter autumn at 9:54 PM. With it, day and night are in balance, and the sun, for a few days now and a few to come, is pretty much rising due east and setting due west. But after this, the days in the Northern Hemisphere will be shorter than the nights.

With our planet in balance, it would seem a good time to seek balance in our own lives, as well. Whatever that means for you, this is what I wish you. For me, I know it means balancing the time I give away with the time I need myself so that all the things that are important to me receive their fair share and that I take the time to enjoy the things of this world––especially in the season I call my favorite, filled as it is with the beauty and abundance of gifts from the earth. And so, a good autumn to us all.

Image: Park in Autumn by Michał Gortskin-Wywíorski. Oil on canvas, circa 1900 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.