Fall is in the air. While it’s still too warm for mittens and heavy sweaters, it’s cool enough for a morning mug of tea, sipped while the sun is still rising and the slanted early light gives the world a surreal look. My morning ride to the train station is becoming colder and darker. The quality of the late afternoon light is changing from bright and blue and sunny to warm golden and amber
Some people may see fall as a harbinger of cold, barren winter, a time for isolation and dreariness. I prefer to think of it as a time for gathering in houses, celebrating the harvest, enjoying the crisp clean air, reveling in the colors, bundling up and taking long walks and stepping on the fallen leaves just to hear the satisfying crunch under my feet. The bright colorful blossoms of spring and the green of summer (or brown of summer in the Sacramento Valley) give way to the rich, subdued hues of autumn – earthy oranges and reds and golden browns.
In my life as a gardener, I suppose could think of the end of summer as a sad time, as my garden is dying and I’m finishing up the last of my canning and freezing. The plants that still remain from my summer garden are making their last efforts and drying up. But, like, most gardeners I suspect, I’m already thinking ahead. I’ve already started planting seeds and seedlings for the fall and the winter, and in my head I’m mapping out the spring and summer gardens for next year.
And like most things in life, the change is gradual as summer eases into fall. Even though the green beans and zucchini are fading fast, the eggplant and peppers, the vegetables of late summer, are holding their own while I dig up the garden around them. I’ve recently planted turnips and carrots and beets, sturdy, reliable root vegetables that will go into soups and stews to warm the quiet fall evenings.
Throughout the fall and winter, we’ll have lettuce and spinach, cabbage and cauliflower, broccoli and squash. We’ll open jars of tomato sauce or thaw out pesto for our hearty pasta dinners. We’ll spread some strawberry or peach jam on some homemade bread for breakfast along with our morning tea. In the evenings, we’ll enjoy mulled wine with apple or pumpkin pie, snuggled on the couch with the cat.
When I’m too busy, life often passes me by without a second thought. I don’t take time to notice my surroundings, much less appreciate them. But in the fall, life at home slows down just like life in the garden, giving me a little more time to think about my blessings, and meditate on the amazing change of seasons that never lets me get bored.