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Friday, September 18, 2015

The Joy of Autumn

Fall here at home in Eugene, Oregon.
Photo by Brian Davies

There's something good to say about nearly every time of year.  Except, perhaps, August.  Especially late August.  In Oregon, this is the time of year when we can start to see sustained temperatures of over 95 degrees...  At least 20 over the top end of my comfort zone.  This year was different, though.  We started to see the sizzling weather in June... Or was it May?  Regardless, for foes of the heat like me, it was too early.

Autumn is, for me, the very best that the year has to offer.  As the light starts to change, imperceptibly at first, toward the end of August, I start to feel a sense of hope and excitement.  Hope that it will, someday, cool off, excitement that nearly everything I get really excited for is about to happen.  Birthdays (mine included), holidays, trips to the pumpkin patch and the apple orchard, walks along trails with leaves crunching underfoot, the spicy smell of chrysanthemums and porches decorated with hay bales, cornstalks and pumpkins.  It's also the time to turn toward home.  In the autumn I have little desire to go far from my little corner of the world.  I'd rather spend time in my own garden, my own kitchen, my own living room.  It's a time to freshen things up, to start nesting for the long, cold winter and to think ahead about those things you want to make and give to those you love as the holidays near.

In my house, so often filled with children, it's also a time to give thought to new identities.  WHAT shall we be for Halloween?!  We've had endless ideas for family costumes.  For awhile we were tailor-made for Snow White (our daughter) and the Seven Dwarves (our seven sons).  Then, as time goes by, Snow White gets married and not all of the dwarves are available for the evening.  Add to that the sudden, and totally natural, desire to strike out independently and dress up as something or someone you REALLY want to be!  Indiana Jones!  Peter Pan!  Harry Potter!  A deviled egg!  We've done it all and there's plenty where that came from.

One of the loveliest things about autumn in my mind is the weather.  We can look forward to warm(ish) days that smell like hay, and chilly nights tinged with the scent of woodsmoke.  Soon, with any luck at all, a bit of bluster will come our way with leaves flying and rain lashing at windows that have seen more than a hundred autumns.

Food plays an important role during this season as well.  The advent of long-sleeves and, soon, sweaters, means heartier meals and just a little less concern about those never-to-be-obtained-anyway bikini bodies.  Soups and stews, roasts and spiced pies and lots of hot tea and cocoa start to make their appearance.  More time inside means more time to bake and to gather in the kitchen to laugh and cook together.

There's not much that I don't like about the fall.  In fact, it can't last long enough for me!

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