posts tagged with 'fall'

a fall outing

There's been lots of rain lately, but the clear days we have had have been wonderful examples of the best fall has to offer. Back at the end of October Saturday dawned so beautiful that we needed to get out and experience it more fully, so we roped in some friends for a walk at Great Brook Farm State Park.

walking along a farm field in fall

sparkling fall

I knew it was a good decision as soon as we turned onto the road to the farm: it was such a perfect image of a fall country lane. Of course, being out of the car is even better. We splashed in the little pond by the barns, watched the end of a college cross-country meet, and walked around a much larger pond to our favorite spot, the bridge at the head of the pond. Sometime in the last month a white pine growing right at the edge of the stream there fell, so of course the boys needed to climb on it. Surprisingly, the most daring of them was Lijah. I was a little nervous, I confess!

Lijah sitting on a fallen white pine way out in a pond

adventurous at five

Zion might have climbed more had he not been so occupied in shadowing Natalie, who, freed from the backpack, had more energy for running around than all the other kids combined. She still doesn't run very fast though.

Zion and Natalie walking over a bridge

questioning his life choices?

We climbed some rocks on the return leg of our loop, then finished the outing by watching chickens while we shared a dish of ice cream. Pretty good. All the best of the season!

Lijah in a leaf pile tossing up some leaves

hooray fall!

more

fall regrets

Our maple tree gets color late in the fall; late and underwhelming. (Why couldn't the previous owners have put in a sugar maple in the middle of the lawn instead of a Norway maple?) As I look out the window now, though, it's browning leaves are colored orange by the rising sun and it looks as good as it's ever going to. Properly fall-like.

The waning days of the fall make me think of the failures of this past summer, yard-wise. One, we didn't use the hammock nearly as much as we should have. I always want to make sure it's put away when it's going to be wet out, and too often I was late putting it up again so fine days went by without anyone being able to use it. Worse, towards the second half of the summer I "temporarily" took apart the hammock stand to mow the lawn... and it never got put back together. Tragedy!

And speaking of mowing. Remember how last year I talked big about using the push reel mower all summer? Well, in the fall I got a working power mower so I could chop up leaves, then in the spring I thought I'd use it for the first pass over the fast-growing grass. That was it, the push mower never made it out of the shed all summer. The good news is the lawn is still in good shape—delightfully green. I was telling a friend the other day, "it's mostly weeds, but they're all perennial weeds so they hold their color!" But I did feel pretty guilty every time I started up that gasoline engine. Using a power mower is habit-forming, I think; you get used to those straight, even rows of cut grass and it's hard to go back to the more naturalistic effect produced by the push reel mower.

Oh well. At least we had many lovely adventures, and got to travel more than ever before, and spent lots of time swimming. Now we're looking forward to winter fun. And next summer will be perfect!

more

welcome fall

All of a sudden it's fall. The morning air has taken on a chill, and even at mid day the adults watching the kids playing in the park are happy to have their sweatshirts on. The Northern Spy apples are ripe, and I made the first apple pie of the season. And right on cue for the equinox, the leaves started falling today. Of course, the gusty wind probably helped; the weather is definitely changing.

I'm totally ready, from a psychological standpoint: it's been so humid and gross the last couple weeks I haven't wanted to spend any time outside. The garden and the yard are a mess, and probably won't look good again until they have a good six inches of snow on top of them. But I also have lots of things I probably should do before the winter. Lots more apples to pick, for example. And I should probably fix the rotted-out spots on the porch before winter makes them even worse—not to mention more dangerous. And things like that. When I look at it that way, the changing season is kind of panic-inducing.

We were delighted a couple weeks ago to release our first successfully metamorphosized monarch butterfly. The second one is pupating now, which seems a little late to make it all the way to Mexico this year. And then today we found yet another caterpillar, munching audibly on the dried out milkweed left in the cage (I hadn't replaced it... I didn't think anyone wanted a fresh supply!). What will the weather be like in 3-4 weeks when that one is finally ready to fly?! I think I know how it feels.

Still, fall is lovely. We're very much looking forward to celebrating it tomorrow at Bedford Day, and then with lots more outings and adventures over the next month. Hopefully I'll remember to take some pictures.

more

happy equinox

I hear from a reader who prefers to tell me things in person rather than comment that the chrysanthemum post might have been too harsh. I hear that! It's really about my own hangups—I'm glad I'm not in charge of anyone else, so they don't have to worry about my peculiarities. Or read my blog either, for that matter! Even in their pots all the mums will look nice once they bloom, which they'll do any day now... because it's fall!

We celebrated this afternoon with a lesson on the equinox and fall harvest festivals worldwide (our school work was this afternoon, because this morning we celebrated my dad's birthday... Happy Birthday Grandpa!). And this evening we totally ignored the reality of our ever-shorter days by staying up super late hanging out with friends. All very fun, only I'm a little concerned that we won't have the energy needed to for the real fall fun tomorrow, as we take in the Bedford Day festivities. Well, we'll be doing it either way! I'll most likely write about the day's excitement... if nothing else, it's better than complaining about other people's decoration choices.

the seasonality of chrysanthemums

A few days out from the official start of fall, it seems like everyone in our neighborhood—everyone but us—has potted chrysanthemums adorning their front porches. Lot of them! Like they must have been on sale somewhere. Since I'm a contrary old cuss, I have some thoughts.

Now don't get me wrong, mums are lovely. We have a few in our garden, and I love the half-wild ones along the side of the bike path. They're a great sign of early fall; it's so wonderful to see flowers starting to bloom just as most of the others are fading away. The coppery and deep red ones in particular are great fall colors too. But!

Never mind how sad I find it when people buy perennials in pots—daffodils or tulips or easter lillies or mums—and then toss them when their "season" is over. That's their prerogative, and if I don't like it I can just grab the cast-off plants to put in the ground myself (I have, too!). But when you have these plants, forced and trimmed to within an inch of their lives, signifying fall... it just doesn't make sense! They're all greenhouse-grown; they could just have well been forced for any other time of year. And worse, the same way you get mums you could just as well have, oh, I don't know, petunias! That is to say, there's no horticultural reason for people to be buying mums—they're just doing it because that's what one does in the fall.

It's like the plastic pumpkins that have started to move from basements to front lawns over the past couple weeks. Why are pumpkins a sign of fall? Because they don't ripen until well into the fall, when everything else is dying. So it maybe doesn't make so much sense to put them out in early September when the sweet corn and summer squash and tomatoes are still going strong. There's nothing wrong with early pumpkins—either plastic or genuine—but their connection with the season is artificial and so less meaningful and interesting.

And that's true of so many things. We celebrate the turning seasons, but we're completely insulated from any real affects as they change. Our homes are heated and cooled to the same temperature all year round; our jobs are completely season- and weather-independent; we can eat watermelon and peas and raspberries all year round. So I guess it makes sense that we need to resort to artificial means to bring back some sense of seasonality. For sure, I agree that seasons are great! And to appreciate them even more, I suggest some slightly more intensive gardening: toss those potted mums into a hole and water them a little until it freezes, and they'll come back next year—at just the right time to celebrate the fall!

more

cold-weather thoughts

It turned chilly here overnight, and I welcomed the chance to turn on the oven to make croutons and simmer beans on the stove for hours and generally feel good about cooking. The garden is a disaster this summer, so I'm totally ready for cold weather to sweep it all away and let us get started on preparations for next year (which of course will be vastly more successful). The only problem we had with the morning's cold was that it took the boys like ten minutes to get into shoes and socks for our morning walk—how much easier to be barefoot all day and just walk right out the door! Never mind: by 10:00 it was warm enough that we had all shed our shoes for the rest of the day. It's still summer... but fall is on the way!

lights, food, music, and friends

the illuminated tree and the buffet table

party night

We threw our party last night—never mind the rain and thunderstorms promised by the forecast and the morning's red sky. And it was great!

In a departure from our usual practice, we were just about ready as the last half-hour before the 5:00 start ticked by. Parents and friends who came early to help set up were able to relax and chat as the other guests arrived; the kids hanging around were able to join in the piano sound-check and warmup. The flowers on the table were picked and arranged by Harvey at 4:35.

the party lawn

dining area and dance floor

It was an all-grandpa musical performance this year. After last year's bravura effort Ira and Leah have their act down pat, and barely needed any rehearsal this time. They put on an early set for one friend who could only stop by for a minute at the beginning of the affair.

Leah and Grandpa Ira performing on stage, with Lijah alongside

seasoned performers

Then it was the turn of Grandpa David and the Disney Movie Singalong. He did a great job fending off the eager hands that wanted to touch the piano, and the kids sang along with spirit to tunes from our three most recent animated favorites: Frozen, Aladdin, and Lion King. What a kind grandfather our boys have, willing to subject himself to that sort of experience, and on his birthday too! I have all the songs pretty well memorized to I did my bit to keep the vocalists roughly together.

Grandpa Dave playing piano, accompanying a crowd of kids on some Disney movie songs

cast of thousands

Harvey and Zion actually practiced their parts quite a bit this year. Zion was too shy to stand up at the mic, but Harvey had no such resistance and sang up loud and proud. Megan is always happy to see a microphone.

Harvey and Megan singing with the mics

star turn

Of course, it wasn't all music. We didn't manage a bounce-house this year, but the boys and I set up the badminton net and the kids had great fun with our seven rackets and three birdies (at least until a darkness-related accident made it seem more prudent to take down the net). The hammock was also very popular, as was the ride-on tractor. And of course there was lots to eat.

lots of food on the table, lit in the darkness thanks to lamps above

enough to go around

The lights are always a key ingredient of this party, and this year I was very proud of myself for including two clip-on desk lamps in the setup: one to light the food, and the other behind the stage so the musicians could see their papers. Because of course the music went on long into the night.

Ira and guitar, from behind on the lighted stage

the evening's headliner

Despite some initial demurrals, Ira put on a great show. Besides several songs with Leah (and Lijah), he also treated us to some Beatles numbers (and other hits of the 60s and 70s), and even played backup for Jack's spirited rendition of the alphabet song.

Just before 9:00 the rain finally came on, just in time to encourage the guests to help clean up and then hit the road.. perfect timing! It was great seeing so many friends and neighbors; I feel grateful for each person who came to spend time with us. And none more so than my parents, especially my dad on his birthday.

my mom and dad sharing a cuddle listening to the music

happy birthday Grandpa David!

Maybe we'll do it again next year.

more

back to fall

We celebrated the fall equinox today in quiet style with a day at home. The bigger boys and I took in the sunset outside, enjoying the beautiful crisp fall air (Leah was inside trying to put Lijah to sleep—the first attempt of several for a boy who took a two-hour-plus nap this afternoon). The reason we didn't much leave home is that we're having a big party tomorrow evening.

the invitation for our 2016 fall party

yes, you're invited too!

Pretty much the same as last time, but we're not so organized this year, so things are a little more haphazard than in years past. It doesn't look like we'll get a bounce house. But the lawn is (mostly) mowed, the lights are (mostly) up, and we've sort of planned with some people to have some music. Plus we've made and obtained lots of food: pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, cake, veggies, chips, 56 hot dogs, and some other things I can't remember. Pretty good for an event that's supposed to be a potluck...

Our organizational failures may also have led us to forget to invite you. Sorry! If you're free tomorrow evening—that may be today, it depends when you get around to reading this!—do stop by between 5:00 and 9:00. You don't even have to bring a dish to share.. we've got plenty!

Fall's looking pretty good so far.

more

our fall leaves

Zion--in orange--crouching in a field of fallen leaves

he blends right in

With the warm fall this year the leaves were late to change color, and then they fell all at once. Climate change worries to one side, that was perfect for how we want to experience the fall. A few good hours of trying to catch fallen leaves on breezy days, and an easy ten minutes of raking to create a huge leaf pile.

Last year the highlight of the boys' fall was an attraction at the farmers market fall festival: a plastic kiddie pool filled with leaves, in which was hidden wonderful prizes. The prizes were so wonderful there was apparently a bit of a scuffle after we left—or some other unpleasantness, I didn't get the whole story—so this year the leaves were just for purposeless creative play. That was enough to occupy Zion and Lijah for about an hour, but Harvey wanted more: he wanted prizes! So we recreated the scene at home.

Well, almost. Though Harvey advocated for using our pool, I pointed out that we had about eight times more leaves than would ever fit—or more. So we just hid things in the pile. Besides giving the boys their own private shot at the hunt, we used our leaves for neighborhood outreach: neighbor kids one day, homeschool friends the next. Leah's big bag of plastic animals were plenty exciting as rewards, bulked out with a little extra halloween candy. Though actually, the pure thrill of the hunt may have been all the excitement they needed: witness Zion's reaction to finding an empty egg in the pile.

Zion delighted to have found an empty plastic egg in the leaf pile

exciting!

For our homeschool day Tuesday the activity was even tied to our curriculum: we also took a nature walk to collect leaves, then made rubbings and compared the shape and structure of some different specimens. And this Tuesday I'm going to have the kids spread the leaves from the pile on the garden beds for mulch. A complete fall experience.

What are you doing with your leaves?

more

this moment

Harvey, Zion, and Taya digging for prizes in the leaf pile

there's prizes in them thar leaves

A moment from the week.