Autumnal Light

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A few days ago, I noticed the shift to Autumnal Light here. Although it’s still in the upper 80s to mid 90s temperature-wise, I felt the same excitement as if the temps had dropped into the 60s or even 50s (proper Autumn temperatures).

I’ve always loved the color of the light in Autumn, as well as the shift in angle. Not only does the golden sepia transform the look of everything, the angle at which the sun strikes causes a shift in ‘seeing’ everyday objects, as that which was once in shade is now highlighted.

What it also has always signaled to me is the life change & all the great things coming soon. My memories are of Northern Illinois, so these are probably specific to the North of the USA.

The shift in color means school is starting again. No more being bored at home & we get to show off our new clothes to old friends. This particular thrill wanes pretty quickly, but there are other thrills ready to take its place. Autumn means the Fall Carnival at school & buying “Affy Tapples”© & winning turtles or goldfish at the game booths.

It means it’s time to go to the apple orchard (the much missed Bell’s in Lake Zurich, Il. in my case) to pick apples, partake of fresh pressed apple cider & eat the just dipped taffy apples (actually caramel apples & their’s was THE best). The fragrance in the store was incredible – a mixture of apples, cinnamon & yeast (they made their own doughnuts there). To smell that while drinking cider, looking at the colored leaves & feeling a crisp North wind when the door opened was an overload for the senses – in a good way, lol.

The next event in Autumn was going to the pumpkin farmer’s out in Barrington. First we would look through the picked selection he had stacked in his drive. If there was nothing suitable, we would tramp through the fields looking for the one that would grace our front sidewalk. We always got another 3 for my sisters & I to carve our own particular way, but the one had to be perfect. After the pumpkins were picked, we would select some Indian Corn that would be tied together & hung on our front door.

Of course we had to go (what’s now called) “leaf peeping”. Generally we would go to Deer Grove Forest Preserve, between Barrington & Palatine. Sometimes we would just drive through (there were more paved areas then), other times we would have a picnic & then walk the trails.

Sometimes we would race each other running down the toboggon slides, which had bars across the top (don’t know why), so jumping was included in the race. Why we didn’t break our necks I’ll never know.  Amazing to think back at us walking through the woods by ourselves & our parents not being concerned. The last time I was there (about 20 years ago), there were what I assume were dope dealers meeting in the parking lots. Now, it could have been that several businessmen (or women) all at once decided to take their limos to have lunch in the fresh air & to look at the leaves, but somehow I doubt it. Insert heaving *SIGH* here.

On all these excursions we would pass by the brown & golden corn fields. The golden light at its Autumnal angle would make the fields looks as if they were glowing from inside. There was a soybean field across the street from our house, going South. Going North was a woods. So,

Autumn also was seeing the leaves across the street changing & then falling, and the glow of the light hitting the dried up soybean plants being reflected in the street below. The smell of the decaying vegetation is one of my favorite memories. Anyone who has experienced this knows what I mean. Try to explain it to someone who hasn’t & they just look at you weird.  Try to explain the fun of jumping in a pile of leaves you just spent 4 hours raking & you get the same look.

Let’s not forget the coming of Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving & then Christmas! And then nothing but snow for what seemed to be 6 months.

Since I’ve been in Houston, the coming of the Autumnal Light means cooler temps are coming, I can go outside without worrying about heatstroke and it’s GARDENING TIME!  Yes, from about mid-October until April (sometimes May, if we’re lucky), it’s time to pull the summer weeds, turn the Earth over again & start the process over again. Planting seeds, pruning, replenishing the soil. Smell the decay of last year’s compost & check the temps to make sure all the weed seeds have been killed.

Even though it’s been many years since I experienced a Northern Autumn & most of the places are gone or changed (Bell’s was sold to a developer & is now a housing tract; ditto the woods & soybean field across from the house where I grew up), I still feel the same excitement when I seethe Autumnal Light. To me, it still means good things are on the way.


About pegsiskatzencats

Middle aged cat lady, flaming liberal, gardener extrordinaire, I live for the Cubs, & HATE hot weather. Chicagoland native, I WILL RETURN!
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