It is the Labor Day weekend. Hurricane Hermine, as it churns up the Atlantic coast, is promising to put a big damper on the festivities. But, how can I resist the charms of a Labor Day barbecue? So I tune into the weather channel and their incessant, up to the hour updates from a reporter standing on a beach holding a microphone in one hand. It is hard to hear above the howling winds. A roiling ocean with crashing waves is in the background. A stray thought crosses my mind: why do premier TV channels put their reporters in harm’s way. For ratings? But I digress.

            I lifted a moist finger testing the winds. I observe the clouds and their speed and direction, put on a thoughtful face and try and predict what it would be like two days from now, on Labor Day (September 5). Too risky for an outdoor barbecue, I concluded. But, why not have a barbecue today, September 3? There is no law against it and the weather is positively balmy.

            My son is home for the long weekend. Both my wife and son are good cooks and enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating, I guess some folks are just lucky!

            They got the chicken marinating. The ingredients for a guacamole dip were laid out (picture above) and they soon got working on it. I selected the wine, uncorked it and let it breathe.

            We sat out on the patio with the dip, nachos and wine. We fired up the gas grill and put the chicken pieces on it to cook slowly. We watched the sun set and paint the sky with flaming orange. A little later, Venus showed herself, low on the horizon in the west. It was clearly visible with the naked eye and beautiful to behold.

            The guacamole dip, tangy and spicy with lime, chopped green chilies, coriander and sage made a wonderful appetizer. We ate the chicken and drank the wine while observing the other heavenly bodies slowly appear as dusk deepened. In the southern sky, Saturn and Mars appeared along with the star Antares, forming a clear triangle. These planets were the heavenly accompaniment to our outdoor barbecue. I had been following these planets for a few days and had become familiar with their trajectories. The crescent moon peeking through the trees looked lovely, casting a shimmering glow against the dark sky. I took photos of Venus and the moon listening to the chirping of the crickets and the rustling of the leaves. It was so quiet and peaceful.

            Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer vacation. From Tuesday, schools reopen and we will see kids standing in line for the school bus exchanging stories of their exploits over summer. It is also a reminder that summer is almost over and the chill winds are around the corner. But Fall is my favorite season with the leaves changing color from deep green to bright red, yellow and orange.

            Seasons change with the passage of time. I look forward to these changes: the tender green sprouting, the vigorous growth, the colorful slowdown, the cold white shroud followed again by the sprouting. Cyclical, always something to look forward to. It is the same with life. There is much we can learn by observing the seasons.

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Percy Bysshe Shelley

This was originally published at


Published by Ranjan Mukherjee