Autumn has finally arrived here in my pocket of the Deep South. Sure, up north, autumn means chilly days and lots of color, but down here it's not quite as obvious. Our temps have finally dipped out of the mid-80s and that in itself is a harbinger of autumnal changes. Anyone who knows me even a little bit though knows I dearly miss the 'big change' of seasons. That color change in the grasses, leaves and flowering pots. The smell in the air of dried flowers, pumpkins, and apple cider. My hands-down favorite seasonal change...the harvesting of the fields. There's a true beauty in the sight of a combine rolling thru a bean field or a corn field. The dusty scent in the air as they make their rounds in the large fields, the hum of the dryers going, the blackbirds coming far and wide to glean from the fresh cut fields. I miss those scenes.
Don't get me wrong, there is a certain amount of beauty in a southern cotton field as the cotton pops open and the leaves die back. Almost looks like a blanket of snow scattered around the fields and fence rows. And the big, block bales of compressed cotton all lined up, waiting to be collected has it's seasonal appeal.
My northern heart is comforted by acres and acres of corn field being harvested. I long for visits across the countryside to the pumpkin farms and the apple orchards. Walking into those barns, dried flowers hanging from the beams, the scents of hot apple cider and cinnamon carried thru the air, those delicious apple cider donuts...I can't help myself this time of year as the calendar pages turn and herald in the cooler weather. My mind travels and my heart starts to long for those scenes and noises that only the north can offer. There isn't enough autumn...or winter...season down here for me. No matter how I talk it up and try to convince myself otherwise, I start getting an ache in my spirit and a bit depressed this time of year.
Around the homestead here we are planning out the pantry. No garden that reliably produces in this clay muck, so I rely on the bounty of those wonderful southern gardeners who have tamed the land. The farm markets fill my larder with white potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and more. I'm working up the next big meat order from the butcher to fill the freezer for some winter canning time. I need to revisit the pantry/kitchen binder and straighten up recipes, add in new ones, cull some older ones we haven't put into the rotation in a while, review the pantry stock and so forth. Time to review some cookbooks here and gather some new ideas. Winter is my big cooking season. I'm all about the comfort foods...big pots of thick soups simmering on the cookstove, my big roasters filled with chunky stews, pans of caramel corn, beef roasts, whole chickens, etc. With the cookstove in use daily as our only heating source, there is always something simmering or baking away. We prep baking potatoes in the morning and let them cook in a large pan in the oven until lunch time. Delicious :-)
Another seasonal goodie here is the increase in project ideas. As the weather cools, I start planning outdoor projects like fence mending and barn repairs. The girls and I start thinking holiday projects like Chrostmas gifts, decoration ideas and crafts, special baking projects like cookie and bread baskets. I start realizing the amount of sewing I have put off and feel an urgency in finishing the piles of patterns awaiting me.
Yes, I put off sewing for other projects like quilt making, crocheting and knitting, but let's face it, as the weather cools, you start to get that urge to be clothed, LOL. I've got a huge SEWING MUSTS list here and times a-wasting!
In my project basket right now I've got baby bonnets and booties for friends, a couple small afghan requests, slippers, and the always-in-progress hats, mittens, and scarves. There are several dresses, aprons, head coverings, and undergarments cut and ready on the sewing table, and I need to do new nightgowns and pajamas this year as the kids have certainly sprouted a good deal in the past couple years.
Always projects waiting on a homestead, but as the weather cools, those projects really climb the ladder of importance. What's better than adding some wood to the stove, grabbing a cup of cocoa, and curling up with some yarnwork or hand stitching on your lap in the evening? I don't think you can find better than that for a cool autumn evening.
We must first see the vision in order to realize it; we must have the ideal or we cannot approach it; but when once the dream is dreamed, it is time to wake up and "get busy." We must 'do great deeds' not dream them all day long. We can work our dreams out into realities of we try, but we must be willing to make the effort. Things that seem easy of accomplishment in dreams require a lot of good common sense to put on a working basis and a great deal of energy to put through to a successful end.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, February 1918