“When I am in the country, I never wish to leave it; and when I am in town it is pretty much the same. They have each their advantages, and I can be equally happy in either.” ~ Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Just as Bingley fancied both London and the country best while he was there, I find myself liking best the season in which we currently find ourselves. Crisp, cool weather? Check! Long sleeves, sweaters, and cute winter boots? Check! Autumn colors, flavors, and smells everywhere? Oh, yes, most definitely my very favorite time of the year!
At the turning of the seasons, we always welcome the change in weather as a relief from the heat, cold, or insipidity of the previous season. There’s more to celebrate than a change in the weather, though, as we enjoy the different facets of the year. What are we doing with ourselves in these shorter days and bright mornings? I’m glad I asked…
One thing we are not doing is sleeping in. The delightful prank of Daylight Savings Time that so frequently takes the sun by surprise, to paraphrase P.G. Wodehouse, does not fool our little children. So we don’t actually get an extra hour of sleep each fall (although, to compensate, we don’t really have to wake up any earlier in the spring). The internal clocks of all the young ones are pretty much set to a constant wakeup time. It may be far too early for my comfort, but at least we don’t have to face a major schedule shift twice a year.
During the cooler days, we tend to shift our outside activities to midday, and stay inside in the mornings until things warm up a bit. This gives us more time to complete our morning chores, and sometimes I actually remember to do nice autumnal homemaking things such as lighting a candle or simmering scents on the stove.
I’ve read many times about making a homemade potpourri by simmering a pot of water on the stove, filled with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and other spices, which sounds as if it would smell lovely; but it would also waste a lot of cinnamon. What we’ve started doing is making elderberry syrup every few days, which fills the house with amazing aromas and provides us with a good source of immune-boosting nutrients just in time for cold and flu season. When we’re not stewing elderberries, I sometimes make hot apple cider or brew tea, so we’re almost always sniffing something warm and comforting.
There are plenty of outdoor activities to indulge in before the weather gets cold. This time of the year, we love scouting out fall festivals and other local events that allow us to get out, have fun, and connect with others in our community. A nearby farm and apple orchard offers an incredible special on a bushel of “seconds”—apples that are too small, uneven, or ugly to sell at a premium. We’ve made a few batches of applesauce and apple butter (more good smells!), with plenty of snacking the while.
For some reason (hmmm, maybe the cost of admission?), we don’t tend to frequent pumpkin patches. One year we did go to a corn maze (it was with a group, so someone else researched and arranged it and procured the group discount), and that was fun. But not so substantially more fun than the free stuff as to justify going again.
Fall music as a genre doesn’t have quite the same compelling atmosphere as Christmas or patriotic music, but I do try to highlight music that fits in well with this time of year. The day after Thanksgiving, it’s all Christmas music, all the time, so I want to make the most of this time. Lots of classical and Baroque pieces lend themselves to this season (well, Vivaldi’s Autumn, obviously, but we also like Holst’s The Planets suite and Copland’s Rodeo), as well as plenty of traditional hymns (we branch out beyond the obvious Come, Ye Thankful People Come and Let All Things Now Living to other nature-related hymns such as Fairest Lord Jesus, For The Beauty of The Earth, This Is My Father’s World, and so on).
Speaking of Thanksgiving, that is definitely the highlight of fall. For as long as I can remember, my family has cherished this holiday as one of our favorites: it celebrates feasting, fellowship, generosity, and gratitude, without a lot of the stress associated with other major events. (Roasting a turkey is not all that stressful, in my book.) I think this holiday really clinches why autumn is my favorite time of the year.
At least until Christmas gets here.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images by Rose Focht.