Thursday, October 27, 2016

Autumn is Awesome

I love fall. Especially fall in New England. The weather is cool and crisp, there's a wonderful earthy smell in the air, the colors of everything are dark and rich and gorgeous. Here are a few of the special things about autumn that make it so wonderful to me.

There's nothing quite like the sensation of biting into a crisp, firm, sweet, juicy fall apple fresh off the tree. Cortland, Macoun, Northern Spy, Empire, Delicious, Macintosh, Winesap, Gala, Baldwin, Fuji. Each one as delicious as the last. Some for eating, some for pies, some for applesauce, some for candy or caramel apples. I like they way they look, I like the way they feel, I like the way they smell, I like the way they taste. I like picking them from a basket and I like picking them off a tree.

The Smells
People don't burn leaves as often as they used to (which is probably a good thing), but there are still wonderful autumnal smells all season long. As well as the rare smell of a leaf pile burning in someone's back yard, a much more common - but equally wonderful - burning smell in the air comes from fireplaces, fire pits, and wood stoves, all being used to drive away the chill in the air. It's the smell of cozy warmth to me.

Walking Through Leaves
I try to walk for an hour every weekday. It's difficult in hot weather, and it's difficult in cold weather, but the crisp, cool mornings of autumn are perfect walking weather. But even better than the temperature is the delight I take in that crunchy, scuffling sound of walking through fallen leaves. There's something very satisfying about breaking the silence of a walk with the rhythmic crispness of your footsteps being magnified by the dry leaves underfoot.

The Colors
Red, yellow, orange, gold, burgundy...oak trees, maple trees, horse chestnut trees, elm trees, burning bushes, bittersweet, sumac, even poison ivy all put on their most glorious colors for autumn in New England. From bright leaves to shiny berries, the near uniform-green of the woods changes to a fiery rainbow in autumn.

The Flavors
As much as we mock the whole "everything pumpkin spice!!!!" phenomenon, I love the special flavors that come out in the fall. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, caramel, apple, pumpkin, coffee. Much like the smell of a wood fire, the flavors of fall make me feel all cozy inside.

Comfort Food
I love the foods of autumn. It's no longer too hot to use the stove, so baked foods like casseroles and pot pies come back on the menu, along with wonderful soups and stews made in the crockpot or on the stovetop. The kitchen - and the whole house - is filled with the smells of garlic and onion and oregano and basil from lasagna and homemade tomato sauce, of root vegetables simmering alongside a pot roast or stew beef, of chicken surrounded by sage and thyme and marjoram. It is the season of chicken pot pie and gingerbread and stuffed acorn squash and chicken and rice casserole and pumpkin pie and beef stew. It is the season of strong spices and hearty breads and second servings.

Cozy Clothes

Perhaps my favorite part of autumn is the coziness. The shorts and tee-shirts get safely tucked away and out come the warm sweaters, the fuzzy slippers, the flannel nightgowns, the soft wool pants, the cozy turtlenecks, the long wool coats, the knitted hats and scarves and mittens and wraps. A hat that snugs down over your ears, a scarf pulled up over a cold nose, long sleeves to tuck your chilly fingers in.

These are the wonderful things about autumn!!

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