As I began to think about the season that began last weekend my mind wandered from the beauty of the season to the need to make those last-minute preparations before the season of rest and renewal is upon us. I spell it out this way.
A - All gardening endeavors are winding down. Everything in the garden needs to be cleaned up and cleared out.
U - Upper northeast enjoys abundance of color. We are part of this beautiful section of the country and need to prepare to enjoy the fall season.
Ann R. Swanson
T - Time to get those outdoor jobs done in preparation of winter. You know who you are. You have flower beds that need to be cleaned out. All of those dead things need to be removed. The hose needs to be taken down. The lawn furniture needs to be stored away.
U - Unique opportunities abound to enjoy nature. Take a walk. Listen to the crunch of the leaves underfoot. Look for those signs of fall such as the geese gathering in that familiar V.
M - Many festivals are held to celebrate the autumnal season and its beauty. Put out some pumpkins. Find some corn husks to decorate with. Make a scarecrow with the kids. Fall is more enjoyable if you simply embrace the season.
N - Nights that are cool prepare for colorful days. Those of us who are always here do not appreciate this beautiful area as much as we should.
A former neighbor who was visiting from California noted the beauty of the foliage as it began to show its fall colors. She was out and about capturing pictures of the little bit of autumn that she could find. Having grown up in this area, she confessed it was something she missed about this area that used to be home.
Thousands of dollars are made annually by tour groups who feature "leaf peeper" events. It seems that people just cannot soak up enough of the beauty. Companies book tours and cruises hoping to be right at the peak season of color. Sometimes they get it right, but other times they are late or even early. Nature is not always predictable.
I, too, have participated in such events. The northeast is a beautiful section of the country that I enjoy exploring. When I go on fall trips and/or cruises I go because I want to enjoy the beauty. Of course, the food that is available is a drawing card as well.
The mountains are especially pretty. They lure photographers from far and near. I do not know about you, but for me I find it hard to capture on film what the eye sees. I think I have a wonderful photograph only to find out that it is just so-so. The image cannot match what is etched into my memory. Even with the glorious sunshine lending its support the photos just do not meet my expectations of the spectacle that we know as fall.
Another thing that I enjoy is watching what is happening on the farms in this area. The Longhorns down the road are now on the corner patch of pasture. Yesterday as I came home from the youngest grandson's football game there were cars stopped to watch the cattle. The little ones are so cute. Most of them are independent at this point. They graze, then rest awhile.
Machinery was in one of the fields near the highway. The corn harvest is underway. The smell of corn silage is very distinctive. I will always remember that smell. For years the men filled multiple silos on the farm. That machinery always scared me. Those sharp knives and the blower created a safety hazard that could not be avoided.
Several years when we had a lot of rain we took the corn off the stalks by hand. The whole family went out into the field. If it happened to be close to deer season we were careful that we wore bright-colored clothing. We have some home movies of the little ones, some that could barely walk, making their way through the field and pulling on those ears of corn.
Usually if the whole family was working in the field together the ladies had planned ahead for the meals. Food was roasting in the oven so that when the sun went down we were ready to eat. The cousins loved the days when we all worked together. Although they were working there was ample time for the cousins to visit and play a game or two.
Supper was not a relaxing meal. There were still barn chores to get done. The men hurried to get the cows home before they could not see where they were going.
The year that my husband got kicked by a cow, breaking his leg was a treat. Dick did not let a little old walking cast hold him back. More than once he got his crutches stuck in the mud while bringing the cows home. He also painted the upper part of the house. When we went back to the doctor the cast was crumbled on the bottom. The doctor asked about what he had been doing and was none too pleased to hear that he had been up a ladder. It did not hinder the healing process though. Dick's leg was as good as new after several weeks of confinement.
There is no doubt about it. Fall is a busy season. As you ride along the highways and byways see what your farm neighbors are up to. Without the farms there would be no food. Although farms make a bucolic setting, be sure there is nothing relaxing about the farm way of life. Farming is hard work, but it is a wonderful way of life. I would not trade my farm roots for anything.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.