Monday, September 25, 2006

Speaking of Autumn....


Autumn is that very lovely time of year when we begin to bunker down and settle in for winter. Yes, preserving canners are on stoves hot and bubbling, glass mason jars being ladeled with gifts of the season in kitchens everywhere; those might be near you or near me of course.

Our neighbor's pear trees are weighted down with ripe fruits having arrived at their peak season. We have three large buckets filled by a young eager picker here, when we were invited to partake of the harvest bounty.

Many small communities surrounding us are announcing their fall fair agendas, entire families participating in some form or another and eager for the special day. One poster announced its traditional pumpkin pie eating contest, which sure peaked up a few ears around here. Then, there's the horse shows being announced as well. Golly, guess what we'll be doing for the next few weekends around here?

I've been out gathering photos to participate in a photo contest locally, and have a few good shots I'm mulling over. Meanwhile, with autumn in mind of course, here's a picture taken from our back balcony by the previous owners, about this same time last year.

Our backyard as seen from the back balcony

Isn't it just gorgeous and literally breathtaking?

Aren't those colors remarkable?

As the colors continue to slowly unfold at this present time on the trees and shrubs everywhere, may we all invite autumn into our lives with the promise it carries for a gentler, possibly less harried lifestyle as we prepare for the shorter days ahead.

As the trees continue to change into subdued hues of the fall color palette, harvest on the horizon mounting up to its peak, the fields neighboring us are being prepared for a crop cash and sheering combine cutting any time soon.

And I'll leave you and end this writing with my personal "thoughts of autumn"....mostly to inspire you to seek out tender moments in your busy day to be thankful for your many blessings, those including family, friends and of course - health! Never take it for granted, for just like a carpet being yanked away from under your feet, some day it may not be as great as you once thought it was, or hoped for while passing through from season to season.

Thoughts of autumn...

- The grand return of a routine after summer's gift of relaxation.

- Having the beaches all to ourselves while out for a stroll.

- The grand return of calendar squares filling up, routined schedules, teaching school, cuddling with a good book by the fire, playing mommy taxi for kid's activities, and being ruled by deadlines.

- Opening up the windows on a fresh, crisp autumn morning like I did today, enjoying the cold breeze filling up the house, while everyone runs for warmer sweaters to endure mom's "airing out the house activity".

- Rising from a night's slumber to a cold crisp morning, and climbing out of bed shivering momentarily from cool tootsies.

- Airing out those winter blankets stored away during the warmer seasons, now necessary for evening's comfort.

- Tending to the furnace with a brand new filter, a servicing to ensure winter warmth, and that not so lovely smell the first season's heating permeates the home with.

- Taking a yearly visit to the apple orchard and the pumpkin farm.

- Watching dozens of squirrels scurry about, running here and there, taking flying leaps as they prepare eagerly for their big sleep ahead.

- Playing in the leaves falling on the ground, and then having to partake in some serious exercise to rake them all up when necessary.

- The return of big hot casseroles, hot homemade soups, and freshly baked crusty rolls filling the air with their heavenly scent.

- Catching the scent of a wood burning fireplace, or someone tending to a private burning in their backyard.

- Playing board games by the fire or taking out that big puzzle to make as a family on a table in the family room.

- Washing and preparing the bird feeders for winter. This week we enjoyed a wee visit with a black cap chickadee, a black junco, four northern cardinals at one time, two blue jays and one mourning dove. They all sang lovely tunes to us, giving thanks to us for their daily fare; as they cracked open the oiled sunflower seeds and bird goodies to eat.

- Sorting out of season clothing from drawers and closets, and ensuring the winter coats and boots still fit everyone.

- Taking down the stash of summer sun hats and replacing the basket with warm mitts, gloves and woolen hats.

- Repacking mandatory outing knapsacks and ensuring colder weather survival items are now packed inside, with a package of kleenex for the sniffles, a lip seal for chapped lips, and a water bottle always ready to fill up.

- Planting the bulbs, in our case, the bulbs mom removed from the soil in the front beds, now needing to be replanted to ensure a spring beautiful tulip burst of color for all to enjoy.

- Greeting the moon earlier and having the children allow it to guide us home from outdoor events.

- Stocking up the pantry, the barn, and the household goods. Necessary items to check out are those outdoor lighting bulbs, with the darker days soon to be upon us.

- Cleaning out eaves troughs, preparing for the rainy season.

- Standing next to the stove stirring up huge vats of fresh homemade applesauce, salsa, jams, or other delightful preserves after a visit to a farmer's stand or country fair.

- Celebrating great feast days ahead, many dear favorites with one being "Michealmas" next week and the excitement of the possibility of an All Saint's party here this year to dress up for.

- Collecting a few gourds to display fall harvest thoughts in a basket, or large sunflowers with a neighboring bird community in mind for chirpy visits at the feeders.

- Finding the perfect fall leaves for our nature notebooks, artsy creations, or pressing for future ideas.

- Gathering up a supply of nature's gifts. Today one son went on a walk in the back of the property in search of the "perfect" walking stick and had complete success finding one. We discovered we have chestnuts; one fell on the younger son's head as he lingered on the swing underneath.

- Thoughts of Thanksgiving are a given when seeing the harvest pull in the fields. Certainly we all have much to be thankful for. And we must not forget about those thoughts of turkey, pumpkin pie, brussel sprouts naturally attached to the season.

- A huge pot of homemade turkey soup simmering on the stove filling the air with a delightful scent.

- Thinking thoughts of Christmas, three months away from today exactly, and gathering gift ideas for things to make.

- Making oatmeal in the crock-pot again, placing it on low heat for the night and waking up to a no nonsense hot meal in a jiffy (like today and we were so pleased to have that meal upon us again!). Our porridge offers variety, depending on our mood. Today's had a drop of maple syrup to sweeten it, and a wee bit of milk for a creamy texture. Sometimes we add raisins, currants, coconut (Delicious!), nuts, applesauce, chopped apples or other fruits, leftover whipping cream, dry powder milk, a drop of honey, a flavorful drop of extract (root beer we figure is not recommended anymore though!) . How about a bit of ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick overnight? Apple pie spice ground blend is simply wonderful with those chopped apples, and truly the sky's the limit on this one.

- Fall cleaning creating a buzz of activity in the home, a noticeable detail when the windows begin to close. We will begin with vacuuming those dirty window screens first this year, though today the entire upper hard wood floors were dry mopped, vacuumed and wet mopped to a shine, with window sills wiped and buffed up, venetian blinds wiped down, and three bathroom floors accomplished as well. Once the sheets were all changed, the windows were flung open to greet the gutsy winds of the crisp blowing morning breezes outside.

- Getting a few more minutes of sleep while darkness takes its time to greet the morning, rather than have the summer sun lighting up the bedroom earlier than the alarm clock timing.

- Wearing socks again and trying to keep feet warm.

- Washing off outdoor furniture and packing it up for winter season to come.

- Hanging a different wreath up for fall, and decorating with other assorted autumn treasures outside.

- Smiling whenever the lawn cutting is once again accomplished (remember, it takes us almost four hours to do this duty!), knowing any time soon with the first frost, this weekly chore will be taking a sabbatical from our calendars until Springtime draws nearer.

- Ensuring time outdoors even if it can only be a twenty minute block of time, to bundle up on the back deck with a hot cup of tea, a brisk dash for the mail or daily newspaper thrown at the end of the driveway, or perhaps taking a quick and refreshing walk around the neighborhood and listening to the crunch, crackle, crunch sound of dry leaves under your feet while strolling over the colorful blanket of fallen colorful leaves from an overhead tree.

The Gleaners by Francois Millet