You probably expected a post about Columbus or Indigenous Peoples Day. So many other
people will write about those subjects so I’m giving them a pass. I’d rather share the varied aspects of autumn I enjoy, even relish. So… autumn or fall, which do you call it? The Merriam-Webster newsletter I receive (yes, a dictionary newsletter) tells me that the British mostly call this season autumn, while in the U.S., mostly we call it fall. The falling leaf season led to the term and it stuck. But I digress.
All through September I resist the advancing seasons, still hoping for more summer. But by October, I find I enjoy many things about fall. Here are “a few of my favorite things…” Occasionally my husband and I take this holiday weekend to explore parts of Maine away from the coast, parts where the fall colors are more advanced. We pack up the car and drive north or west to places like Bald Mountain or Rangeley Lake, where we rent a cabin. Years ago it meant camping, but those days are over.
“The falling leaves drift by…” Let’s ignore the raking and clearing of leaves from gutters. Red maple leaves, round golden poplar leaves, bronze oak leave. I love seeing all the colors. And I must still have some of the little kid in me because I enjoy scuffing through the fallen leaves as I walk the dog. They crunch, they swish. Sasha enjoys the various smells instead. I’m thinking wild turkey and deer scents.
“’Tis the gift to be simple…” It’s the simple things that I enjoy in October. Like the purple and lilac wild asters this monarch butterfly checked out in my neighbor’s field. And that field full of milkweed, the pods bursting with seed fluff. The seeds float in the breeze propelled by their parachutes.
Alas, these past few years the milkweed plants have lacked a robust population of monarch butterflies. This is a sad phenomenon throughout North America due to a combination of factors. The population of monarchs has been declining for the past two decades. Changing farming practices have decreased habitat, suppressing the growth of milkweed—the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs. Deforestation in Mexican forests coupled with the conversion of grassland to farmland across the butterflies’ flyways in the U.S. has further threatened their existence. Ah, but that’s a downer, when I’m supposed to be upbeat today.
“I get misty, just…” Sorry. That was a stretch. I couldn’t find a song featuring geese. Yes, migrating Canada geese and ducks are all around. We woke one foggy morning at the lake to see these Canada geese gorging on grasses. There were about two dozen of them, honking and dipping.
“Pumpkin, pumpkin on the ground…” I found this children’s song by Alison, sung to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and couldn’t resist. Yes, I love pumpkins, unadorned, decorated, and carved into jack-o’-lanterns. Pumpkins look so cheerful. Something about the chubby shape and the bright orange color. We used to grow two plants that yielded usually seven or eight biggish fruits for decorating the deck, but stopped growing them when we reduced the garden size. Pumpkin vines take up an enormous amount of space. Some people plant them next to their compost heap and let the vines trail out into the field.
“In an octopus’s garden in the shade…” With apologies to the Beatles, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are not under the sea, thank goodness. My final fave is a visit to those gardens in Boothbay. More pumpkins and more fall decorations, mostly all natural, than you could imagine. (And this year there are trolls hidden in the woods.) Here are some images before I go.
Anyone else have fall faves?