The northern hemisphere celebrates autumn, as I remember Robert Frost’s “O hushed October morning mild, thy leaves have ripened to the fall … ” and so does Grace Metalious when she starts Peyton Place with “October in New England …”
Well, that’s the mood in Buenos Aires today March 27, as we complete the first week of the fall. Rainy April arrived early this year. My favorite season reveals the seemingly infinite southern sky as the trees shed their once luscious green foliage. The skillful hand of autumn paints sidewalks in my neighborhood with alternate brown tones in light and shadows that could make that northerner Caravaggio green with envy.
Buenos Aires has a soul of its own. Like many southern ladies she refuses to be known right away, she wants to be discovered. When her lover unveils her last mystery he is already trapped. Walking the afternoons during the fall in Buenos Aires one suddenly believes to be somewhere in Stockholm, or London, or Madrid … perhaps she’s trying to be like all of them but as soon as you turn this or that corner your eye catches a glimpse of her creole black mane as she scurries through the shadows.
At night she will quietly slip between your sheets and lie singing a desperate song of love that will evoke in your heart a lullaby of the land where you grew up. She is a master of melancholic deceit and she can play those dark strings like no one else. The obsessive rhythms of Africa meet the sad ballads of the Highlands, separated from the ancient homelands forever by the vast Atlantic, singing “never more” like Poe’s crow perched on a naked branch against the impossibly wide southern skies.
The south, the immeasurable south has met your soul.
Reprinted from March 27, 2015