A version of this piece was posted on Our Jackson Home, a fabulous new publication, available in print and digital formats, that highlights this Place. Our little neck of the woods. I hope you'll check it out!
While there are various signs that summer is making its exit--and fall is curiously peeking around the corner, the gradual disappearance of fireflies from our backyard is the flickering billboard announcing summer’s conclusion. The days grow shorter, time spent in the hammock might require one to be cocooned inside a well-worn comforter, and the sunsets are all the more vivid.
Being a native Floridian, the home of only two seasons (pre-spring and summer), it was quite a treat to see the leaves turn color. Don’t get me wrong: the vibrant fuchsia of the hibiscus and the lush green of the ubiquitous palm tree is quite lovely; but for this girl, the oranges, yellows, and reds of autumn are equally so. Yes, I was the one, in central Pennsylvania, with my then-infant son (now known as He Who Is Taller Than I) tucked safely in his rear-facing car seat, who would pull off the side of the road, and pick up an armful of fallen leaves. And, of course, I kept several small bags in my glove compartment to do such things!
In fact, those colors so captured my imagination that the main living areas of our home reflect my fall fascination. It was no surprise that many of the colors to which I gravitated and, in some cases, ended up on our walls were called such things as Bear Claw, Autumn Blaze, and Golden Moon. "Yes, I'd like a small Bear Claw and a decaf Autumn Blaze with whip, please." Actually sounds more like a local coffeehouse.
Fall also ushers in apple season. And, thank goodness for easy slow-cooker apple sauce recipes that make the house smell like a Yankee Candle. It is during the fall that I channel my Nana who was a Jackie-of-all-trades--and Mistress of most of them. She sewed, embroidered, crocheted, baked, and canned. She canned everything--tomatoes, applesauce, beans, and the like. So, the apples are purchased, the slow cooker finds an almost-permanent place on my kitchen counter, and off we go. Thank heaven for the nifty Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer that also sits on my countertop. It must have taken Caroline and Laura Ingalls hours to peel such a bushel. Now? Fifteen minutes and poof! Happiness in the aforementioned Crock Pot.
Of course, this particular season brings in other delights for me and my family. College football, pro football, and watching the highlights of those leatherheads. I make Nana’s Famous Crab Dip and we cheer on our favorite teams. I am a fan. My sons, especially my eldest, are fanatics. To give you perspective, we don’t have cable or satellite anything. (I’ll pause here for the collective gasp!). It’s not a weird homeschooling family thing. In Davidic fashion, I “won” a battle with a cable Goliath. Let’s just say they weren’t completely forthcoming about all the fees, quid pro quos, and the fine print that an electron microscope would struggle to fathom. Naturally that means that we do not have the requisite 147 channels through which to surf. Generally speaking, we find most of the games we want to watch online. And, you’d be amazed at the number of games offered on ESPN-Spanish. Since my eldest fanatic is currently taking Spanish I, he can watch the games and might even be able to understand what is being said!
I do feel compelled to issue a shout-out to those dear friends who are cable subscribers and graciously open their homes and their armoires for the big games. Themed food, multiple screens, and comfortable seating. Better than any sports bar in town. And, there’s no cover charge.
As the temperatures eventually drop, our backyard patio becomes host to our iron fire-pit, compliments of Lowe’s. Though it has not been in the family very long, it has seen a great deal of action. Birthdays celebrated, stories shared, relationship challenges dissected, and of course, s’mores toasted. There is just something mesmerizing about fire. There are evenings where conversation around the fire is non-stop and seamless; yet, there are nights of reflection that ebb and flow. Much like the flame.
Truth be told, I still pick up leaves. And, I’ve been known to iron them between two sheets of wax paper--to make them last as long as possible. And some of those “crafts” just might make their way to some refrigerator doors in South Florida.
Just like toasting S’mores over a open flame, you’re never too old for that. Never.