The sun is starting to change its quality. It's just over a week after the autumnal equinox, so still practically summer, especially here—but the light pouring around the treetops and through the window onto my bare leg is a little cooler than it was, a paler lemon instead of rich summergold.

This is the time of year when the wanderer in my heart begins to take over. The air turns cool and dry: a breeze is still a caress, but more like the smooth hand of a grandmother than the warm sticky baby's palm of the summer wind. The leaves turn and fall and spin around just in front of me, almost reaching to grab my hand, as I walk the paths down by the river. This is always the time when I begin to long.

It's a little different this time. I'm still physically recuperating from the stress and fear and illness that dogged my steps through Europe all summer, and I feel a stronger pull toward familiar paths and faces and a little nest all of one's own than toward the seductive uncertainty of the road.

Slow down. Burrow; nestle; delve and root, and see what then grows. These are the lessons I hear in this year's autumn wind.