The Colors and Voices of Autumn

“The heat of autumn is different than the heat of summer. One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.” Jane Hirshfield.

I love apple cider, especially warmed. Our Carolina mountains are filled with apple orchards. One year we hopped in the car for one of those road trips through the mountains with no destination in mind, and came across an orchard that was working to bring back heirloom apples – the ugly ones that have wonderful flavor, and names that aren’t found in the grocery store produce section. We brought home a bushel to make pies and applesauce and to eat and they were delicious. Unfortunately I have no idea what the name of the orchard was, or where it was since we just stumbled upon it, so I can’t go back.

But I always forget the season for picking begins in August down here. My Ohio blood equates apple-picking with later in the fall. When my internal rhythm wakes up and screams ‘Let’s go pick apples!’ the season is almost over, with only the later, tarter ones still in abundance. But that’s also when cider seems to appear.

Cider does more than warm my insides, it warms my heart. There are so many memories that come with that first sip. I’m back in Ohio with brisk temperatures, high school football, and hayrides. (Are hayrides still a thing?) I lived in a rural area so there was always a farmer with a tractor, and a hay wagon or two, willing to give groups a ride through the fields and over back roads. After sitting on itchy hay and often freezing, the warmth of apple cider and hot chocolate was welcome. So were the apple cider donuts and the bonfires. I can almost hear the laughter and joking of classmates, and of my youth ministry kids. Cold, crystal clear nights are good for sound and memory travel.

I miss Ohio in the fall, but Mark Blum’s photos take me right back there. I appreciate his gift of photography. Thank you, Mark!

Another autumn quote I found, this one attributed to Nathanial Hawthorne: “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as an autumnal sunshine by staying inside the house.”

When I was going to school and working in Ohio, at a school, I always had Columbus Day off (it wasn’t Indigenous Peoples Day back then). The timing was perfect to go traipsing through the woods of Mohican State Park to see the colorful leaves and hear them crunch underfoot. You know that’s another great sensory thing about fall, swooshing leaves aside as you shuffle your feet and hearing them crispy under your boots. Last week I spent several days in Washington state, most of them hiking. The leaves were just beginning to change colors, but the woolly worms were out, the streams were quieter, and the temperatures cooler. It felt like fall and clearly the call to go outside.

This summer I saw the popular Van Gogh exhibit that’s making the rounds, so when I found a quote attributed to him, I thought it appropriate to add. “As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas, and colors enough to paint the beautiful things I see.”

Maybe a modern equivalent is photography. I take a lot of photos, not professional by any means, but okay for me. Yet last week I tried to get a shot and it just wasn’t happening. Mt. St. Helens was reflected in Coldwater Lake, a lake formed by the volcano’s eruption over 40 years ago. (Can you believe it’s been that long?!) The lake was smooth, crystal clear, and the reflection of the snow-capped crater was perfect. But no matter how or where I stood, which camera I used (phone or digital), I just couldn’t capture the mountain and reflection in the same frame. And then that inner voice – Stop. You’re not meant to ‘capture’ it. This is a fleeting God-moment just for you. Put the lenses away and just be. Savor it. Breath.

And so I did. Contentment replaced the sense of rushing I’d been carrying. I couldn’t help but smile looking at that view, and today as I write and remember that afternoon, the smile returns.

As the colors continue to change, harvests of wheat and pumpkins and gourds are brought in, and the last of the apples ripen, I wish for you to not “. . . waste anything so precious as an autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.” May you go outside and relish all those fleeting God-moments, breath, smile, and create an opening for stress to leave and contentment to enter.

And then grab a mug of warm apple cider to warm your hands, and savor the sweet-tart taste of the autumn sun.

I’m finished traveling for a bit. I’m finally over jet lag. I’m looking forward to sitting by my Writer’s Window for a while and invite you to stop by. See you on Monday.

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2 Responses to The Colors and Voices of Autumn

  1. quinonesev1 says:

    So glad that you’re settling in…..

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