The real transition from summer to autumn, I have always thought, occurs during these October evenings. Drenching rains knock leaves off trees. Cold nights act as a reminder of what is to come in November, and beyond.
I first became attuned to New England October evenings in the 1980s, in Providence, subsequently in Boston. Hard rains at night tapped on my storm windows, sluiced into gutters outside, and flowed in my imagination to Narragansett Bay. It felt good to be inside, in a dry apartment, not at sea or on top of Mount Washington. When I moved to Boston after college, these nocturnal autumn rains became linked inextricably with jazz music. I often drove around late at night listening to Eric Jackson on WGBH. Eric’s calming voice, coupled with Milt Jackson’s vibraphone solos, seemed to mix perfectly with the rain, and the insistent beat of windshield wipers. At night slick streets shone from reflected sodium lamps.
I left Boston for Taipei in October of 1988, and that meant a transition from “rainy” to “rainier.” Torrential weather systems in that part of Asia arrived daily. I carried a collapsible umbrella in my briefcase and sought out a jazz bar for the comfort of listening to Coltrane on a rainy evening. That place became a regular destination for me, and a reminder of Boston.
Now, almost 30 years later, Eric Jackson has curtailed his broadcast schedule, but continues in his work. The October rains persist also, a reminder of change and continuity. They seem to represent the true psychology of autumn.