Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it ‘the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.’ The mere imitation, however accurate of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of ‘Artist.’ ~Edgar Allan Poe
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved this time of year. ALWAYS. Something about the cooler, yet usually sunny weather that makes me want to move around and be active. Even on cold dreary rainy days, I must admit, I still find it refreshing and appealing. To me, Autumn is simply a season to fill all my senses.
The fall colors always mesmerize and draw me into their paintings. They create an almost surreal world where mystical meets reality.
The other day I was walking through Latrobe and the wind kicked in, releasing colorful dead leaves from the branches as I was under the tree. It was amazing! All the leaves gently fell all around me and gathered at my feet. Like a little kid, I did a small twirl with my face turned toward the bright blue sky with my arms stretched wide, feeling the sun and the wind. It was a small moment, but a huge one in terms for thankfulness of experiencing such beauty.
The Laurel Highlands are so very pretty on a macro and micro level. Whether you’re looking at the ridges from a distance with all the clumps of different bright fall colors, or starring directly into a pile of raked leaves, visually it’s intoxicating, in a good way.
Yes, the leaves and bare trees scream of death, letting us know winter is around the corner, which I’m happy about for that’s my second favorite season. But you have to admit, the process to get us to the next cycle of life is well worth it.
Besides the leaves turning, partaking in the creepy Halloween decorations are exciting. The ghost and ghouls and witches and bats line yard after yard, ready to creep out a kid or two is entertaining. Again, bringing me back to my youth.
Fall festivals like Fort Ligonier Days Fort Ligonier Days Parade – Marching Down Memory Lane and pumpkin patches also scream fall and the arrival of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Like most kids, I too carved up a pumpkin or two in my day. In fact, that was one tradition I kept going for most of my life, expecting Kyle to take the reins. Well, when Kyle was about three years old or so, I found out that wasn’t going to happen.
True story. My parents and I took Kyle to the pumpkin patch to pick out, none other than pumpkins. Kyle chose the biggest one for himself and smaller, less appealing orange squashes for me and my parents. He’s always been a stinker like that!
I got everything ready for the carving adventure to begin, which Kyle was still on board and excited to help hack away at his very own pumpkin, that is until we began. After I cut the top off for Kyle, I instructed him to scoop out the guts before cutting the face. That kid sniffed the inside and took a good long look down into the innards. Turning his nose up, he instructed me to scoop out his guts. No way, I was working on my own pumpkin. I did get him started before he reluctantly joined in. Bravely following my lead he stuck his bare hand inside, to quickly remove it announcing he doesn’t like the feel of the seeds on his skin. Are you kidding me? Nope. That’s our Kyle. For a couple of years after that we got him latex gloves, yes like he was doing surgery, but if the wall of the pumpkin grazed his arm he would freak out. Eventually, Kyle would sit while I carved the pumpkins for him, all while he dictated what I was suppose to be doing and telling me how to do it. This proves my love for that kid!
Soon that even got old and our pumpkin carving days pretty much came to an end, something Kyle could care less about. At one point, I had Kyle paint his pumpkin, but again that didn’t keep his interest. So now we just decorate with plain old pumpkins.
In addition to enjoying the mosaic colors of God’s impressionistic landscapes and human imagination of Halloween decorations and pumpkin carvings, I like the sounds of autumn.
Fall seems to bring with it a unique sound. Sure the crunching of leaves under my feet certainly sets the stage for winter. Granted, it’s not very helpful when hunting, but there’s something so therapeutic about stomping on dried up leaves. To me it’s the same effect that bubble wrap has, it’s just fun to hear the sound of popping and the anticipation before the “explosion”. Of course no matter what season, perhaps not a hot humid summer day, hiking through the forest is the best medicine for any ailment. Walking in the woods is like being in my own personal telephone booth and answering a direct call from God, very spiritual when your heart and mind are open to listen.
During the fall season, even the wind vibrates differently, like it’s sounding an alarm for the coming of snow and winter. I know the geese hear it for they too blast their own siren announcing their travels to the south.
Besides the peaceful sounds of nature, there’s the Halloween screams and horror that fill the air. The creaky floorboards, the terror of young ones being frightened, the maneuvering through corn mazes and the sounds of tractors driving around a wagon full of hay and spectators who are also enjoying the fall season. Exhilarating!
But the best part of autumn are the smells and the foods that hold those scents! Spices! I’m not talking about Cajun seasonings or hot sauce. No. I’m talking about ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Each is a unique and wonderful aroma, but put them together you get autumn in every bite. Naturally, I’m talking about deliciousness such as pumpkin pie, mom’s absolute favorite; spice cake, hot apple cider, sunflower seeds, mostly the action of harvesting the seeds and baking them; and apple butter.
The other day mom got a jar of apple butter and slathered it on a piece of bread. As a youngster, I helped mom can food all the time in preparation for the long winter months. What did we can? Just about everything from the garden, tomatoes, beans, beets, (we do can deer meat too, and sometimes we find the deer in the garden) cucumbers for pickles, and corn. I also helped my mom and grandma make apple butter.
Yes, I was part of the entire process from picking the apples, which I never cared for due to the bees buzzing around the rotten apples on the ground, to grinding the fruit and boiling the jars for canning. Over the years, I’ve even enjoyed opening a fresh jar of apple butter to accompany my toast. My brother, Ryan, LOVED apple butter. Sometimes I would catch him eating it straight from the jar. Forget waiting for the toaster to make toast, Ryan would sit in front of the television with a loaf of bread, not slices, an entire fresh loaf of bread and a pint size jar of apple butter. In a matter of minutes he would fill his craving and empty stomach and polish off all the bread and the apple butter.
Apple butter is good, but nothing gets my mouth watering like homemade grape juice! We’ve always had a grape arbor and sometimes dad would make wine out of it, now recently my cousin Mikey harvests the grapes for his wine, but when I was little we picked the grapes strictly for grape jelly and grape juice. Making grape juice is really easy, too easy. The hard part is the time it takes waiting for the juice to ripen for consumption. I used to suck down juice like it was water. (Later on did I find out that juices were my number one trigger for my serve attacks with mouth ulcers, no more juice for me) Making grape juice was really a lot of fun, so much so I even had Kyle join in on the tradition. Smallest Moments, Mean the Most Kyle’s not really a juice type of guy, but he’ll drink the sweetness especially if he invested time in preparing it. He also really likes our homemade grape juice.
No matter what your favorite season is, you have to admit, autumn has a little bit of something for everyone. Our family has a lot of traditions that accompany this time of year, which makes it even more meaningful.