One house we lived in had a window in the upstairs bathroom with a view of trees and fields. Each year in August I would look out this window in anticipation of the bright red patch that always appeared in an otherwise green expanse of a maple tree. It seemed that much brighter for being surrounded by the remaining green leaves. Later the rest of the tree would turn red, yet there was something very special for me about that first splash of color.
Perhaps that is because it heralded my favorite time of year. I cherish the first tinges of red and yellow beginning to blossom in the trees by the roadside. It is truly said that the strong colors of fall echo the pastel shades of spring except that they are strong and vivid. I have also noticed that in the weeks before the autumn colors emerge, the green of tree leaves takes on a grayish look that hints at the ageing of the leaves, preparing them for their ultimate brilliance. The other colors are present in the leaves all along. When the cooler weather comes, the green disappears and the red and yellow take over.
Fall colors are lovely and bright. Pumpkins, squash, chrysanthemums, apples, and fiery leaves are all part of its panorama. Highway vistas of hills plumped up with pillows of brilliant hue are a delight to drivers and passengers alike. As spring is a time of tentative melodies and pastel colors so fall is loud and strident, its colors are bold, its thunders vibrate around us. Farmstands open up and share their bounty with passers by. In more rural areas little collections of garden produce appear by the side of the road with prices and trustful boxes for payment.
When I was a child I delighted in scuffing through the rustling leaves. I loved the sounds and the tastes of fall. The sweet concord grapes that grew on the fence around my great aunt Alice’s garden tasted so wonderful. I was equally happy to breathe the slightly sharp air of fall that held a tinge of the frosts to come. I didn’t care much for raking the leaves, however I got paid to do it and that helped. I never tended my parents’ gardens, nor was I asked to. Later when I had a garden of my own, as fall emerged I hurried to pick the last tomatoes as well as the remaining marigolds. However I paid someone to rake the leaves.
Busy squirrels scurry around storing up food for the winter. Some alas are harvested by swiftly traveling automobiles. These provide a feast for the crows, so nothing is wasted. Autumn is a time for all of us to store food. My mother busily canned and later froze her garden produce. When I had a large freezer I did too. I loved the feeling of providing for my family. Now I can’t store much food for the future, however I can take advantage of the seasonal plenty. I got out my old Fanny Farmer’s cookbook and looked up apple recipes. We had Apple Brown Betty for supper. Yummy! Fall is my favorite time of year and I rejoice in its bounty as well as its beauty.
Among the first things people teach their babies is to wave “bye bye.” Could it be because intuitively we know that saying good bye is one of the things we will do frequently in our lives. I have discovered that the older I become the more goodbyes I seem to be saying. This is not to complain, only to comment. It is also true that I have grown more aware that for every goodbye there is often a hello. Perhaps this is more on my mind as I say goodbye to Daylight Saving Time and hello to Standard Time once again.
This theme has been on my mind recently on more than one occasion. As I put away the last of my warm weather clothes, I say goodbye to the weather I wore them in. The shorts and tank tops go into clothing bags stored under the bed to wait for another season. To be sure there will be balmy autumn days, yet they will not be warm enough for cotton blouses or skirts. I have already begun wearing my woolen sweaters and corduroy pants and putting on my down foot warmers at night
I’ve been watching the leaves change and begin to disappear from the branches of the trees. I say goodbye to the them as they fall, baring the empty branches to the wind. Even the leaves that have not fallen have dimmed. The colors that earlier were so bright no longer flame over the hills but are muted, softened as the leaves get ready to drop. I see the fallen reds and yellows on the ground turning brown and curling up as they accumulate. Swirly gusts rustle them, scurrying them around the lawns and sidewalks as thought hey were little creatures racing to get away from the cold.
Not only my clothing changes with the season. My eating habits and preferences do too. My mother didn’t have access to fresh green beans, summer squash, or other seasonal produce from the supermarket when I was growing up. Now although summer produce is available, I am more apt to eat winter oriented foods. I prefer summer squash in the summer, winter squash in the cool months. It is said to be healthier to eat with the seasons. To me seasonal food tastes right. Warm drinks replace cold ones. Casseroles, stews and soups are the order of the day. Peaches and blueberries are a summer memory and I crunch apples. I say goodbye to one kind of cooking and welcome another.
Also I think of friends who are no longer near, or whose lives are now too busy to allow for visits. I remember those who have left this earth and its pleasures behind for a different kind of existence. I say goodbye to the longer hours of light and welcome the hours of darkness with their invitation to rest. Soon I will say goodbye to being outdoors for long periods of time. Fall is a season of goodbyes yet once we have said goodbye there is always the promise of what is to come. Goodbye is another way of making room for hello.