From Pat: I'm here in Southern California where the only signs of autumn tend to be piles of pumpkins at the grocery store and the dropping of prickly sweetgum balls. And I know down-under is going into spring, but you at least experience autumn as Anne tells us, if only on the other end of the year. So this month we asked the wenches what their favorite part of autumn is. My favorite part is pumpkin spice!
The poet Keats wrote of autumn as a "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" but where I live there are very few mists at that time. For me Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year, with warm sunny days and cool, crispy nights. And sometimes on the cool evening breeze there is a hint of woodsmoke in the air, a harbinger not of bush fires, but of cosy home fires and the winter to come.
Autumn brings all the benefits of summer without the hot sticky nights, including the last of the summer fruits. In the city there are enough exotic (non-native) trees to get a show of autumn color — I love watching the changing of the leaves to crimson or gold and the emergence of the bare tracery of branches against the sky. My favorite autumn color comes from my Virginia Creeper which turns the most beautiful crimson.
I love Autumn! I grew up in Connecticut, and there is a uniquely memorable clarity to the season in New England. The sunlight has just lost the languid softness of summer, its pale, heat-kissed hues sharpen into a deeper honey gold that drizzles and dances over the red and yellow rufflings of the changing leaves. The air turns cooler, crisper, and redolent with the scent of fresh-chopped wood and ripening apples. As a child, my father and I would often go to the local weathered-red apple barn on weekends and pick out slatted baskets filled with rosy Macs and Macouns. In the car ride home, I'd always choose one and bite into firm, fragrant flesh, savoring the sensation of the tart juice exploding against my tongue and dribbling down my chin. Sweet memories.
I know many people love spring, when the earth stirs to life and suddenly bursts into bloom. But for me, it’s autumn that strikes some inner chord. The bright blaze of glory—a celebration of the moment that one knows will soon fade to brittle browns—seems all the more beautiful for its fleeting splendor.
Autumn is my favourite season. When I think about it I forget the endless grey mornings like the one we have today and the fact that my walking boots leak, and see the idealised picture created by Keats in his poem; the mist wreathed over the fields, the low sun rising and the dew sparkling on the grass. I love being outdoors and find it lifts my spirits and refreshes me. Walking through the autumn woods I love the richness of the colours and the crispness in the air.
Autumn also has a melancholy edge to it and that calls to something in me too. My other favourite poem about the season is a song by Genesis, “Evidence of Autumn.” It’s such a sad song but in both the words and music it perfectly captures the elegiac nature of a season that is so beautiful and yet has a sorrowful note to it. But it’s not all gloom and doom. In the evening we light the wood burner and curl up in front of the fire with warming food and drink, and a good book, whilst the huge harvest moon rises in the sky outside.
Locally, we grow apples. We always have in this part of the country, since Colonial days. All the old farmsteads that they turn into visitors' centers with gnarly docents have one or two apple trees for atmosphere. Not generally the actual historical varieties but I do not make myself the ten-thousandth visitor to point this out.
Monticello's apple trees are 100% authentic though. There is something to be said for scholarship. Thomas Jefferson's favorite apple was the Esopus Spitzenburg. Or the Taliaferro. Or the Albemarle Pippin. Or something else. I will nod in agreement to whatever is said.
In any case, here in my hills, in the fall, we sell bushels of apples by the roadside, just about all of them actually grown here. The local Amish used to sell homemade apple cider, unpasteurized, but they have rather been driven out of the business by the health department people. There's still good sweet cider in all the stores. Just not quite as authentic.
I'm fond of a mug of hot spiced cider by the fire. Nothing better on a cold fall day. We also make hard apple cider as one of our mountain industries. I am told hard cider is the new craft beer, but mostly by folks who are trying to sell me some. I feel both traditional and wildly modern when I drink hard cider out of what I persist in seeing as a beer bottle. Gives me a bit of a kick. Like a wise country, I enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
From Mary Jo :
April may be the cruelest month, but autumn could be called the cruelest season because all the flamboyant beauty is twined with the knowledge that it's so fleeting. Spring just gets better and better until it slides into summer. Autumn shows off its grandeur till a growling rainstorm comes through, and all the beauty vanishes overnight.
But until that happens, I love looking out of my garage and seeing colors like this!
Pat here again:
What is your favorite part of autumn?