Some ten years ago I made a conscious decision not to resent fall. Until then, every time someone named autumn as their favourite season, I cringed at their short-sightedness. Didn’t they know what followed the two short months of splendid glory? A couple years into my conversion attempts, I decided to escape the horrid season and took a September trip to Nevada. Even there, the local merchants, obedient to the calendar, rolled out their autumn stuff. In 35C+ weather. Trust me when I say, Pumpkin Delight plug-ins turned positively nauseating in such heat.
With not even one red maple leaf in sight, the displays seemed so fake I longed for home. For the first time I missed fall. I promised to like the frosty mornings followed by the tank-top-heat of the afternoons.
My change of attitude didn’t come easy, although scented candles, pumpkin pies, spice lattes, cosy scarfs helped.
Today, I’m a convert. Picking my late vegetables, I marvel at the colours of gourds. Perfectly useless, yet so charming. Pie pumpkins turned out great. Tomatoes missed the memo and chose to stay green, but the pole beans are drying, getting ready to be shelled.
Our Guinea fowl came home, after a summer spent in our neighbours’ fields. For months these birds mocked our attempts to capture them, and bring them back to the netted enclosure my husband and I so lovingly constructed in the spring. Much to his delight, one fall afternoon, they simply marched into the barn, all sins forgiven.
The birds announced their takeover so loudly that our turkeys pressed against the wall, frozen in fear. Everyone else hid, as the regal poultry collectively decided the hayloft rafters are the perfect place to winter.
They are still there. I checked. I brought corn and water, so they wouldn’t starve. But when they spotted my bold intrusion, they squawked as if I was there to rob the place. I ducked my head and retreated, wondering what a roasted Guinea hen would taste like.
The livestock has been shipped off. The vegetable garden is mostly cleared. The bees are fed. The cold cellar is filled with Mason jars, and crates of produce that will hopefully keep fresh for the next few months as the soil rests.
I look over the list of pre-winter chores and long for a break. Tools and trellises tucked away. Hoses rolled up in the barn. Hay under the roof. The garden tilled. Fall is marvellous, because after the splendid leaves cover the ground, and the air fills with the smell of woodstoves and frosty morning. Finally, calm settles over our farm.
And then we rest. As we reflect on the season, we realize how truly blessed we are. God gave us hot summer days. Crop-saving rain. Bountiful harvest. Health and strength to get it all done. And then I reach for my calendar and count the days till spring. Because like it or not, winter is coming.