To most people autumn is the kickoff season for football. I look at it as the onset for new beginnings, a time to forget what went before. Nothing says “A New Start” like the crisp, cool weather of fall.
That belief probably stems from all my years working in the school system, where September signifies the beginning of a new academic year. Students who might have goofed off in their previous grade level have the chance to start all over. With a clean slate, if you’ll pardon the pun.
I carry that over into my private life. While hot summer days mean hours spent lazing at the beach or pool, fall is the time to get productive and look ahead to the holidays. For example, I have a beautiful china cabinet filled with crystal and china handed down from my aunt and mom that I use every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Fall is the time to wash and dry all those beautiful pieces, as well as the shelves they sit upon, so that they are ready to sparkle and shine for those festive dinners.
Likewise with my antique crystal chandelier. While my sons and husband would love to see one of those trendy chandeliers on home shows hanging over our dining room table, I can’t part with the one my late aunt gave me when we bought our first house years ago. It’s made with real crystals and, though many pieces have fallen and been lost throughout our subsequent moves, I still take the time to clean each crystal drop by hand every fall. Warm memories of my aunt keep me company throughout that task.
Besides readying the house for the coming holidays, I use autumn to cleanse my mind and spirits. The cooler weather (although in southern California fall can be hotter than summer!) teases me outdoors. Taking morning walks when the clouds haven’t yet burned off, watching brown leaves swirl then crunch beneath my feet, are activities I can hardly wait to pursue when autumn approaches. I use those solitary excursions to think over what I have accomplished over the year, as well as figure out what still needs to be done. And if I am not alone on these outings, I take the time to reconnect with my companion.
In October my church dedicates all the quilts that we quilters have worked on throughout the year. What a wonderful fall Sunday morning it is to walk into the sanctuary and see the many quilts we put together draped over the pews, to hear the ooh’s and ahh’s of the congregation! They are a catalogue of the year as we walk around and say, “Oh, I remember doing that one at Easter,” or “That one I helped finish before Valentine’s Day.”
And no fall season is complete without the yearly trip to the apple orchards of Oak Glen, California. I have never been to New England to witness the splendor of that area’s leaf-turning, or tasted the cider that comes from those farms, but California is not without its own autumn beauty. Oak Glen is a small community up in the local mountains where city-and-suburb dwellers such as myself can experience apple picking, cider pressing, hay rides, country music, and even the occasional hoedown.
Is it “tourist-y?” Of course it is. But no one can fake the turning color of the leaves on the hills, or the blue sky scudded with puffy white clouds. Or the flavors of all the different types of apples on display. No one can manufacture that “crunch” of the first bite into a Granny Smith, nor can anyone exactly replicate the giggle and smile of a small child as he races to pick out his perfect pumpkin for Halloween. In those respects it doesn’t matter if you are in the northeast or in the southwest of this country: fall will usher in the Season of Hope, best seen in the faces of children. How can anyone not see it as a fresh new beginning?