Taking into consideration the troublesome effects of ragweed, autumn is my absolute favorite time of year. The temperature is near perfect on a daily (and nightly) basis. The AC unit finally gets a break. A little WD-40 gets all those creaky windows open wide, and fresh air slowly seeps into all the nooks and crannies of a house that’s been on lock-down all through the hot and humid summer. During the day there’s a beautiful, vividly blue sky, brought about by an atmosphere washed clean of the summer haze. I notice the return of friendly clouds, snowy white and puffier than an old-fashioned, freshly plumped feather pillow. The smaller, wispy clouds drifting by are simply feathers that escaped during the plumping. Pesky bugs are held at bay by the cooling temperatures and brisk winds, and campfires are once again a gathering place for friends. Really, are there things much more satisfying in life than the smell of a fire traveling home with you after a day in the country? Add to that – monarch butterflies on the wing, the beauty of the changing leaves, the delightful sound the dry ones make when you walk through a pile of them, and the heavy blankets back on the bed…AHH! As far as I am concerned, this season is a slice of heaven!
While it is the time for campfires in the country, it is not the time to be in the stores. Walk into any retailer in late August, and you’ll be dragged into a state of depression by premature displays of Halloween candy and over-the-top All Hallow’s Eve décor. You’ll find yourself overwhelmed with pumpkin flavored creamers, snack cakes, coffee beverages, tortilla chips, bagels, toothpaste, and aftershave. And just when you have reached your pumpkin spice limit (usually by about the second week of September), and are longing for life to return to normal, Christmas décor will rear its ugly head in the seasonal aisle. Yes, folks, just a few short weeks ago, it was back-to-school shopping madness, and now, apparently, it’s time to start planning that unsurpassed Christmas display.
What is it with these retailers, rushing us through the year as though our lives depended upon us planning ahead, and having all the latest in holiday displays and gadgets?! Can’t we get through September (at least) without strolling past the in-your-face displays of Christmas ornaments, cookie cutters, and wrapping paper every time we go grocery shopping? No one in their right mind should be thinking of any of these things until December. If you’re the kind of person who shops for Christmas gifts all through the year, more power to you, but I say, boycott the stores and give yourself permission to enjoy the entire season of fall (which, officially speaking, lasts until Dec 20th) on its own merits. Throw out all of those craft and home-decor magazines, walk out of that money-grabbing store, and dive into the great outdoors!
Go straight to a farmers’ market, and buy some pumpkins, apples, and butternut squash. Soups disappear from my meal planning for the entire summer, but the cooler weather has me craving big batches. Come cooler weather, there is nothing quite like soup for a simple meal that warms the belly and the soul. Find a friend with a big back yard and a good view of the skies, to enjoy some campfires and/or star gazing. Find some creative ways to embrace the season.
Besides brewing up big batches of yummy soup, here are some of my favorite fall activities/experiences:
Watching the sunset. Digging out my long-sleeved shirts and sweaters from the back of the cedar closet. Drinking fresh cider, or, even better…hot, spiced cider! Finding piles of crispy leaves on the sidewalk while I’m walking in the neighborhood, and rustling/crunching my way though them. Sitting by a campfire after the sun goes down, watching the flames dance. Cooking hot dogs on a fire. Going exploring in the country. Packing away the bug spray. Feeling a cool breeze filtering in from an open window. Closely examining individual leaves of rich and vibrant colors. Catching sight of fallen leaves caught up in a frolicking whirlwind. Sleeping later than usual in the morning, wrapped in a snug cocoon of blankets. Buying pumpkins, gourds, and ornamental corn for a harvest display. The sound and smell of rain soaking a carpet of autumn leaves.
These are just a few of the delightful adventures I will enjoy, with all the time I am saving by NOT thinking about Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas until I’m good and ready. I will be celebrating the moments, while all the crazy folks are decorating for All Hallow’s Eve, outlining the perfect Thanksgiving dinner meal plan and menu, and designing this year’s perfectly themed Christmas tree. I’ll get around to those other things eventually, maybe not quite so perfectly, but in much better spirits than those who fall victim to the retail industry’s pressure.