You know it’s Autumn when you drive to work and see every house on your commute down the mountain into the city with tendrils of smoke spewing from their chimneys. Rolling your window down, inhaling the cool crisp morning air, you can decifer which home is burning wood vs coal. (We burn coal for heat, btw…I just know you are wondering, lol)
The leaves slowly change and the farmers bring in their harvest of pumpkins for the tourists (and the locals). I consider myself a tourist, as I have only been out here for 5 years. We went to one of the local farms this year to pick up some decorative gourds for my table (that, to be honest, I’m most likely going to have to buy more because I did not put them on my table; I put them around the living room, kitchen & dining rooms as decorations). I loved going to the pumpkin farms on Long Island with the kids I used to babysit for and watch them pick the most perfect pumpkin imaginable. I was always the sucker too…their parents would give them enough money for a small pumpkin, but they’d look at me with such excitement in their eyes as they fell in love with the heaviest pumpkin, I couldn’t help but buy it for them. I finally felt that excitement for myself.
Amongst the pile of pure orange orbs full of pumpkin seeds there sat a lonely, long-stemmed, kinda squashed, green pumpkin. The runt. It looked Cinderella-like. As if your very own fairy god-mother were about to appear from behind it and make all your dreams come true. Like the song. (yes…those are my k-cups behind the pumpkin. Hands off.)
Underneath the tall pines that divide my property from my neighbors, I made a discovery. Another clue that it is Autumn. I don’t understand why, but every Autumn these mushrooms pop up under the shade of my trees. This time, I was able to get some pics before the critters got to them. When I was little, I remember my mom taking me outside when she was probably at her breaking point with my hyper-activeness and we’d look for Smurfs under the mushrooms in our yard. Which were few and far between because my father would rip them out of the ground or run them over with the mower. It’s funny when you look back at what your parents did with you as an adult and realize the little things they did to entertain you. Another time, I remember making a paper chain out of construction paper that used up all of the construction paper and I swear this chain went clear down the driveway, across the street and up the neighbors driveway. I’ve noticed parents don’t do things like this anymore with their kids. They should.
It turns out that the chestnut tree parallel to my pines actually bears nuts. Real, edible, chestnuts. They are painful to hull, because they are protected by a spiny armor. So, necessity being the mother of invention, and, being that they were on the ground, it’s amazing how a mower blade works perfectly to get them out of their protective cover. Remembering how my father used to come home from the supermarket with a pound of chestnuts, sit at the kitchen table, take out a knife and cut an “X” on the round side of each one while the oven heated up, I decided to attempt the same thing. Let me just tell you…those supermarket chestnuts have nothing on the ones fresh off the tree. I sent half the batch home to my parents. I recieved a simple direct message from my mom via Twitter “we got the chestnuts. dad is happy.” The chestnuts were usually followed by a whirlwind bake-fest kicked off with apple pies made with my mom’s #1 pie dough (the secret is – she’ll kill me). I called home a couple days after I got that DM and spoke to my father. I asked him if he wanted more chestnuts. His response “Only if you don’t want them.” Even as an adult, my dad still won’t take a delight away from one of his kids. I overnighted him the rest.
Autumn is my favorite season. Even though I’m a winter baby. If I could change the calender and make the last half of October and first half of November it’s own month, I would. I still get excited by that one day you inherently know Summer is over, even if the calendar says it’s not (or it’s been over for weeks). You can smell it in the air. Autumn is a new beginning. Full of firsts. A clean slate.
So celebrate it.