musings about food, travel, creativity and life

Finding Fall in California



In our little valley of California, leaves turning orange, or yellow or red are not as plentiful as in other parts of the country. But there is still enough color change to wake up the senses to “this is a new season.” Add the different slant of light and the shortening days, all the pumpkins in the markets and the signs for harvest festivals and one can get exhilarated, and at the same time, at least for some, a little wistful.

It always amazes me that there is this exuberant fullness and vibrancy of life and then–poof–the end of that fullness. I guess there are gifts to that. Certainly one gift is the recognition of time passing and to not let it just pass, but rather to live it. And to live it “con gusto,” however I can. 

I buy orange mums and orange Gerber daisies. I fluff up our Flokati rug and light the fire. I purchase makings for pumpkin bread and l get out my ceramic and wicker pumpkin bowls. From the linen chest, I retrieve my made-at-home-with-loving hands autumn leaf napkins and those dark brown ones made by a dear friend. I bring in bay leaf branches for the table to add that incredible sense of smell to the proceedings.

I make chili, hot apple cider and am thankful for a friend’s warmed apple pie with vanilla ice cream. I look forward to newly released wines. I light more candles, glassybaby and otherwise. I do more art, read more, ponder more, and thank more.

I dust off the family of autumn dolls I made many years ago, and, as best I can, follow a little phrase I wrote and tucked into the purse of Autumn, the matriarch of the clan: “Harvest the fullness of each day.”

Everyone’s response to autumn is unique. One friend just down the valley always gets more nostalgic, missing and reminiscing about her parents; another in Wisconsin is outside on her bike even more than usual, soaking up the glorious weather and daylight before it shifts. My husband plays melancholic Brazilian tunes on the piano. And you? I wonder how autumn is for you.


* To see those dolls, visit my newly created Gallery. Also, the photograph above has been altered via Waterlogue,” an IPhone app I find very fun!

4 thoughts on “Finding Fall in California”

  • Your essay wants me to bake something pumpkin-y. But then I remember I don’t bake. But I could…Fall is, for me, the crunching of leaves as I run through the woods above our house…sitting in front of the gas fireplace to ward off the chill…the re-discovery of the pleasure of hot tea…the ability to sit still and read a book and look out at the bare, brown mountains…the fall hikes I wish to do before the snow (hopefully) blankets them unattainable until spring.

    • I love this, Kelly. What beautiful writing…almost like a prose-poem. And I think you so beautifully capture that
      dual pull of autumn–to go out, to hike, bike, run, whatever, before the next season of cold and possible snow sets in,
      and to stay in, to enjoy the coziness of home. Thanks for sharing this. May you enjoy whatever this fall day brings to you!

  • One of my favorite poets is Gerad Manley Hopkins. He’s wrote a poem which starts “Margaret are you grieving over golden groves unleafing”. If you type in these lines you will see that his ambivalent feelings about Fall reflect yours. You are just a little easier to understand…and I love what your experience has led you to do!

    • What a powerful poem, Kathy. Thank you for the suggestion to read it. Yet another reminder of
      all humans’ awareness, at some level, of time and life being precious, and passing, gifts. Gotta live!

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