Technically It is still Fall

I couldn’t resist posting today, 12/13/14, the last day of this century that the date is sequential. And, unbelievably it is still a week until winter begins. While we have been enjoying the early start to the season, some of our relatives have already fled to the warmer climes or will be doing so soon. As for us, we are heading to Wyoming for a ski trip with family over the Christmas vacation. As they say, if you live in the northeast, you better like snow.

For those of you who don’t like to venture out in this weather, I hope these pictures at least convey how beautiful it can be. Cheers!

Signs of Fall under the snow

Signs of Fall under the snow

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A Red Bellied Woodpecker came to call

A Red Bellied Woodpecker came to call

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A cozy fall night

Here we are, the week before Halloween,  cozied up in the family room with a fire in the fireplace and the world series on tv. Nothing seems more of an indication of fall than the smell of the wood burning, the sounds of baseball in the background and the taste of apple cobbler in our mouths. With the freeze warning we have in place, I went out and cut the last few flowers from my garden: dahlias, chrysanthemums, roses, cleomes and marigolds. There is one pumpkin that has cultivated on our vine which we may be able to carve out next week. I harvested my basil crop and made a batch of pesto. Branches of oregano and rosemary are hanging up to dry and the cold frame has been installed so we can continue to collect lettuce and swiss chard until Thanksgiving.
Everything has a season, and that is good. We all need a time to sit and be cozy with our thoughts- especially after a busy and productive summer. I hope you all can take some time to relax and enjoy the tastes, smells and sounds of the season.

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Time for a Change of Season

I look out my window and see a cascade of yellow leaves twirling to the ground. The trees are almost bare. Soon it will be time to rake the leaves into piles and put them in my compost or use them for bedding on my sleeping gardens.        

The raspberries hang on through October, still producing a few succulent berries;

but the brussels sprouts are energized by the colder weather, producing their little bulbs which will be harvested in a few weeks.

My flowers are winding down for the season. I am able to cut a few dahlias, brave enough to bloom but I have to supplement them with more hardy chrysanthemums and sedum.

A lone Morning Glory still tries to greet the day, which gets later and chillier with each passing dawn.           

The Holly is producing brilliant red berries in anticipation of a new season ahead.       

But for the most part, all that is left of my flowers are dried hydrangea heads and puffy seed pods. I leave them standing as a display of textures.

     

I feel compelled to buy a few potted mums for a splash of color on my doorstep, but it is time to prepare for winter.    

I turn over the soil around my pruned stalks and scratch bone meal into the surface where my spring bulbs are planted. I gather fallen leaves and lay them over the flower beds. It is time for them to rest and prepare for their Spring activity. It is time to prepare myself for winter, too.

I swap out the baseball caps for hats and mittens, knowing it won’t be long until it snows.     

I cook a big pot of chili and curl up in front of the fireplace, which has been lit for the first time in months. Like my gardens, we all need to time to rest… at least for this evening.

Fall is in the Air

Ahh! The crisp feeling on a bright blue morning, I breathe in the dew-filled air. The canopy of trees is starting to show off some bold shades of color: orange,yellow and hints of red. The once full green boughs now gallantly wave their brilliant banners at the cooler, shorter days- perhaps showing that the challenge of survival has only brought out the best in them. I have worked hard in my garden all summer, but now things are winding down. I still have tall, spiny brussels sprouts, massive oblong pumpkins and dazzling shades of swiss chard. Only a few tomatoes remain, as well as the lingering red raspberries- most of which have already been turned into jam.  This is the time of year to sit back and enjoy all that has been accomplished. I also try to reflect on what mistakes I made (planting flowers in the wrong place because I thought they would be shorter) and what I can improve on for next season (adding more late-blooming varieties).

Do you notice how similar the cycle of the plants and trees is to real life? We must all go through times where we look at ourselves and assess what we have accomplished, what we regret or set new goals. Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday for soul-searching, repentance and starting anew. My family does not observe this strictly, but we often spend the day hiking to the top of a mountain. The challenge of climbing over rocks and fallen sticks, ascending and descending only to have another ridge ahead, gives us time to clear our minds. By the time we reach the summit, we are exhausted. Our reward is the breath-taking views of the colorful valley below. This intense connection with nature helps us to find humility and a fresh perspective on life.

 Like the changing trees, we can adapt to whatever challenges life brings us. We can find a way to bring out the best in ourselves. We can forgive whatever wrongs have been done to us or turn a bad situation into a better one. And we can push ourselves to take just one more step towards our goal, even when it seems impossible. Sure, the trees eventually lose their leaves and go into a dormant stage; but even in the depths of winter, they have buds on their branches, just waiting to be kissed by the warmth of spring. We could learn to be patient and nurture our goals or principles if we took our cues from the trees.