Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Autumn List

Some fall color, from this morning at a local park. It's interesting to see the leaves in the process of turning. Tiny dots of color growing and spreading. So pretty.

When I posted about our chocolate chip-pumpkin muffins and autumn traditions, I mentioned that I made a list of fall things I want to be sure to keep doing now that the kids are mostly away from home, living their own grownup adventures in far-flung places. It's nice that Michelle still lives in town and is always happy to join me with any of this. And that means my grandsons are part of it, too, which is always a blast.

Kathie asked me what some of those fall traditions are, so I'll list them here. We do nothing particularly fancy or time-consuming or difficult. These are very simple things that worked easily and naturally into our home and family fall rhythm when the kids were growing up. It's not a checklist to be conquered-- just a reminder of some good things to do before Thanksgiving.

*An asterisk means it's a new thing we haven't done before.

Items highlighted in colored type means we've already enjoyed doing that thing at least once this fall.

1. Make Russian Tea and mail it to Aaron. (You didn't know it was coming, but it will be mailed before long, Aaron.)

2. Make chocolate chip pumpkin muffins.

3. Collect fall leaves and press them for projects and display.

4. Bake leaf-shaped sugar cookies and decorate them in fall colors. Pumpkin-shaped cookies, too. (This will be interesting. My kids always frosted these beautifully colored fall leaf cookies that were like works of art, and mine always looked like stripes or mud.)

5. Put pumpkins on the porch.

6. Make cheddar chowder at least once, plus Mark Bittman's long-ferment, no-knead bread to accompany it.

7. Sign up for Project Feeder Watch. (Yikes, I'm on my own this year! Must get better at identifying birds.)

8. *Make luminaries with brown paper lunch bags, leaves, and spray paint (actually a Martha Stewart idea).

9. Make our favorite chicken pot pie with cream cheese crust and be sure to invite Monty (and gang) to dinner.

10. Make apple crisp, apple-spice waffles, and apple pankaka.

11. Read autumn selections from some of Gladys Taber's books. Pull out Susan Branch's Autumn book. Read Riley's When the Frost is on the Punkin' (and other autumn poetry) and the autumn chapters in Tasha Tudor's A Time to Keep. (The Tasha Tudor book is a sweet, sweet reminder of a time when seasons and celebrations were simple and magical)

12. Take a drive somewhere with pretty autumn colors. *Collect and preserve (in glycerin) small, colorful branches of leaves to use for decoration.

13. Visit a pumpkin patch. (That will be happening this coming Saturday.)

14. Drive to the refuge to watch migrating birds and wildlife. Take a picnic lunch.

15. Plant bulbs to force indoor winter blooms.

16. Collect large Ponderosa pinecones from our yard and scent with cinnamon oil. (I've picked up just a few so far.)

Also, Mike used to build big bonfires every autumn as soon as the summer burning ban was lifted. Big bonfires. I think a man feels his manliest when he builds a snapping, cracking, roaring fire. Anyway, we always roasted marshmallows for s'mores (once it was safe enough to get close to the fire), and sometimes we'd roast hot dogs, too. And almost always in the dark because it's way more fun that way. Then we'd sit around the fire til it died mostly away.

I'm sure there are probably more things I could list... And I'm also sure that most every family has things they enjoy doing together each autumn. Families attend cider pressing parties, get lost in corn mazes, take moonlight hay rides, do pumpkin carving parties, and lots more. We've done some of these things, too. What are some of the things your family traditionally does in fall? (And I realize that at least one or two people who read here sometimes are from the half of the world where it's spring!)