In Connecticut, where I grew up, the air smells peppery when the leaves start to dry out. Our cool green woods turn day-glo red and yellow, and tourists (we call them leaf peepers) from New York head up here like there’s a bloody gold-rush. Urban artists and photographers seem obsessed trying to capture our hillside colors. I don’t really know why, but a painter I met in Riverton one year told me, “These trees pitch more overtones than a symphony orchestra.”
In mid-September, it’s a different color-fest here in Puerto Rico. I walk around Old San Juan and notice that — behind the wooden doors of colonial row-houses — there are inside courtyards. I’ve seen more flowering plants in the past four days than I have in my entire lifetime. Back East, it would be time for me to stockpile firewood, look for my wool socks, and pull the boat out of the water. Not that I miss home, I don’t. Dad is gone, and Mom has moved on. Clearly, I need some new seasonal rituals, so yesterday I decided to play tourist — since I’m already a street peeper. I Googled sight-seeing in Puerto Rico and found the site — get this — “Scurvy Dog.” The guy’s got great information for anyone coming to the island — especially if you’re planning to make Puerto Rico home. And, right now, i am.
Anyway, I caught a bus to the El Yunque rainforest. I was a bit disappointed, to be honest. I thought it would be more colorful, full of noisy tropical birds or something. Anyway, on the way back to San Juan, I got off the bus at one of the small roadside restaurants and had my first good meal in days. Outside, under a flower laden trellis, I ate home-cooked chicken, rice, and plantains. I’m coming here for Thanksgiving! Ah, the smell, taste, and color of falling for Maria.