Monday, October 09, 2006

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

No other season brings to mind images of small towns, white church steeples nestled among red sugar maple, hayrides and jumping in leaf piles quite like fall. Crispy leaves that crunch under foot while out walking on moonlit nights just cold enough to see your breath. Breath it in, fall has a smell all it's own: dried leaves mixed with just the right amount of wetness and a bite of frost. Wood smoke and ripe apples. Dried hay and cornstalks. Never has decomposition smelled so comforting than on an autumn evening in New England.

Autumn is a glorious time in this part of the country. It's our crowning glory. The pretty girl, a few months older and a bit more mature, casting aside her summer glow and gauzy dresses of sea blue for a crown of red and orange leaves set upon her golden hair. Her coat a field of brown and green festooned with the bounty of the late harvest, stitched up with corn silk and orange gourd buttons. She is a sight to behold and people come from far and wide to take in her beauty.

When I was pregnant one of the things I looked forward to the most was sharing these experiences with my daughter. I've always had a love/love/hate relationship with fall. I love the traditions, I love the weather, but I hate that the lazy days of summer are coming to an end opening the door for old man winter. I hoped that having a little person around to educate on the finer points of fall would help alleviate the melancholy I was always left with once September arrived. So far I have not been disappointed.



Every weekend there is another destination. Another farm, another orchard, another stand by the side of the road where people snatch up brightly colored mums to pay homage to the glory of this season by decorating their front porches with the roundly shaped plants. There are festivals and street fairs, where we gorge ourselves on fudge and food on sticks, perusing the wares of local artisans and merchants. I buy a blue tile with a relief of a Labrador patiently sitting with tongue out, a dog belonging to the potter's neighbor so I'm told. My husband puts it up on our kitchen wall.


Then there's the fields of orange pumpkins. Round, fat pumpkins that will join the mums in their place of honor on front stoops. Or soon to become grinning jack-o-lanterns, their innards used for pies and the seeds toasted for snacking. Adults bring their children to pose amongst the tangerine moons or set their new babies down on a pile of the oddly shaped orbs, to take a picture of a sleeping pumpkin in the patch. My daughter finds a pumpkin that is just the right size and proudly carries it as long as her small arms will let her. She tries to pick up a much larger one, questioning the strange heft and covering herself in dry soil. Unable to lift the fruit that is as large as she is she happily toddles off in search of others to conquer.



The trees are full of ripe, red apples that we pick from the branches. Willing limbs that relinquish it's offspring because they have started to weigh the branch down. The tree knows when its time to let go. We eat enough apples to keep a million doctors away. Straight off the tree, rubbed on a pant leg to uncover a perfect shine. Baked in pies and crisps and covered with vanilla ice cream. Pressed into cider, sipped both cold and hot with mulling spices that fill the house with fragrance. The first taste of a caramel apple, the warm goo dripping onto our hands and covering our faces from chin to nose. And when our faces are wet with juice and sticky with sugar we share sweet, sweet kisses.


Pick a road, any road, and take a long, meandering drive at just the right time of season and you'll be rewarded with vibrant hues of orange and yellow that envelope the highways. The sky is no longer the outrageous azure as it was during the summer but instead a lighter aquamarine, as if acquiescing to the riot of flaming crimson. Why compete when you can compliment? I love our long drives in the fall when our only destination is another orchard almost an hour away that sells the most amazing apple cider doughnuts. We eat two each right out of the fryer, the crispy, sugary outer layer and soft interior making the greasy hands well worth it. Our little girl sitting in the pack on her father's back waits patiently with mouth wide open for her bite. We have to stop ourselves from buying too many and making ourselves look like gluttons, but apple cider doughnuts come but once a year. We buy more and enjoy them with our morning coffee, the ones that make it home that is.

No, I have not been disappointed with Autumn this year. It's hard to feel melancholy when sitting on the lawn of our favorite orchard and winery, sipping the cool liquid made from local fruit, watching my daughter maneuver the small hillside down to the steps of the public gazebo. She turns to see me but she can't since the sun is at my back. But I can see her. The light and the warm breeze playing with her hair. She holds onto her father's hand until she feels comfortable enough with her footing to let go. The apple of my eye. Sweeter than all the fruit in the orchard. She takes her father's hand again, not entirely ready to let go. His arm is strong and not worn down by her weight at all. We're not ready to let go, she's not ready let go. We'll have plenty more Autumns to celebrate together.

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27 comments:

Ruth Dynamite said...

Yes - glorious. There's nothing like fall in New England.

Jonathon said...

I love this time of year. I've been living down in Texas for the past two years, and the thing I miss most is colored leaves, light jackets, and brisk breezes that hint at the cold ahead without completely freezing you to death like November and December surely will.

Great post!

Christina said...

Ah, I love fall as well. Nothing like this season to make you want to go outside and take in nature. Summer's too hot, winter's too cold, and spring is too wet. But fall is just right.

Tabba said...

I too, love fall. And can appreciate your sentiment about the love/hate relationship.
However, I wholeheartedly agree that taking the time to appreciate it for what it is, from a child's perspective, is like falling in love with Autumn all over again. In the same, new, old ways.
My brother-in-law & sis-in-law live in Mass & I'm half-tempted to hop in the car right now. Just so I can sample those delights that are just oh-so much better in a New England state!
Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post!!!!

Heather said...

We've been enjoying fall here immensely. Love the pictures of Chicky- the contrast between the blue and the orange is awesome and her grin is super cute.

Damselfly said...

Fall is my favorite season! Your photos are great.

Waya said...

I wrote a post yesterday regarding "what's all the hoopla about fall foliage." but after reading this beautifully descriptive post about the beauty of Autumn...I might have to change my mind on my take on Fall.

Chicky Baby is adorable as usual!!

Ericka said...

beautiful post! I can almost smell the nip in the air. Wait. I can. It's fall here too. Well, beautiful post, none the less.

radioactive girl said...

These kinds of experiences make me so happy in a way I can't describe, but you just did.

margalit said...

You're only a hour north of us, but we're still all green down here in the city. Barely anything turning at all. But we did hit the pumpkin patch in Concord to get our jackolantern pumpkin, and it was turning there. I think it will be peak here in about 1.5 weeks, about the last week of October.

I love love love fall. I feel so blessed to live in New England when the sky is blue and the weather is still Indian Summer warm. It's just an amazing time of year. Too bad it leads directly into.... well you know!

beth said...

This was an absolute pleasure to read. Thanks so much for writing and sharing it.

reluctant housewife said...

We've been out in the orchards as well. Beautiful=New England in October

kim said...

I've always wanted to see autumn in New England, you make it sound fantastic
Your daughter is gorgeous :)

Lena said...

Absolutely can SEE the turn of the season with this incredible post. You word wizard you.

I adore autumn and winter. Mainly for the soups. Does that mean I have an eating disorder? Hmmm.

Also? The picture of her holding the pumpkin - precious. Love the bold colors.

Mommy off the Record said...

We are going to the pumpkin patch this weekend. After seeing these pictures, I'm getting even more excited for our trip to the foothills!

I love the fall for all the reasons you state (and hate it for the one reason that you stated as well - winter is right around the corner). But I mostly love it. Thanks for such a great description of what the season holds for all of us.

scribbit said...

Those were wonderful pictures, you captured the fall colors beautifully. Today was my tribute to fall: applesauce making. I love the way the house smells when it's bubbling in the pot.

Kyla said...

Ahhhh! I'm so jealous! We don't have a real fall here...we just have slightly cooler days. Your post was BEAUTIFUL!

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

I love "sweater weather". It's my favorite. But it does lead to winter...ugh.

Just found you from Izzymom...Great place to visit!!!

CPA Mom said...

Apple Cider Doughnuts? Umm, not fair to talk about and not share. So not fair. Drool ALL OVER my keyboard now.

T. said...

I love this post! It makes me want to grab my sweater, my coffee mug, and bundle up my kids and go appreciate the fabulous show nature is displaying for us once again.

However, I'm lazy and it's early. So I'll just sit here, and enjoy autumn due to your blog. You're a good woman, making my life this easy. Thanks!

sunshine scribe said...

Those photos are stunning.

I have always been a summer girl myself but you make autumn sound so appealing!

something blue said...

That was the most beautiful toast to this season. Every word painted the picture perfectly. Now if only I could taste those apple cider doughnuts.

Love the pictures!

halloweenlover said...

Beautiful post! I feel the same way. When people ask me how I can stand to live in New England as a former Californian, my only answer is Fall Foliage.

petite gourmand said...

okay this is one of the most beautiful posts ever...
I am a big fan of autumn as well, and after reading this I feel pretty fortunate to be able to share in the experience...
who needs palm trees and sandy beaches?!
oh and apple cider doughnuts?
I might have to make the drive to New England...mmm.

Nancy said...

I'm with Petite Gourmand. Such a beautiful post -- the imagery and the pictures make me homesick for fall in central New York.

Your daughter is so lovely.

Mamacita Tina said...

We don't get the fall colors unless we travel to the mountains. At a tot class, the teacher had a pile of silk leaves for the kids to run through and throw at one another.

Pumpkins, so much fun for the little pumpkins in our lives.

modmom said...

what a doll!