I sit outside and close my eyes. I feel the cool, crisp breeze and the sun warms my face. I smell earthy leaves and open my eyes to watch them dance as they float to the ground. Looking up into the trees I see the most beautiful vibrant colors of gold, red, and orange. The trees are putting on their own show before going dormant for winter. This cycle of nature amazes me every year and I never get tired of it.
The cooler temperatures mean less bugs and I can turn off the air conditioning, open the windows and air out the house. I seek out the sun instead of hiding from it in the shade. The winds of fall flow gently through my wind chimes to produce calming sounds. The smell of fall is unique to any other time of the year. The smell of decomposing or burning leaves and the low humidity warm days and cool nights feels so good after a long hot summer. My dogs love to be outside all day in this cooler weather and will even want to sleep on the back deck all night long.
It is fun to decorate outside in the fall. Mums in shades of purple, rust, white, yellow and burgundy are available at many stores. They can be placed on a bale of hay with a few pumpkins to make a beautiful festive decoration. Indian corn and gourds of all shapes, colors and sizes can also be used to add interest to the mix.
I appreciate the final tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers I pick out of my garden in October before the first frost. I always look forward to the cooler weather to do some maintenance in the garden. I prepare my fig tree and perennial herbs for winter by tucking them in with a blanket of leaves. I turn over my layered garden and add more layers of compost, leaves, newspaper and vegetable scraps. To my raised bed I add leaves and turn it all over putting the bed to rest for winter.
Mid October is also the time to bring inside my pots of basil, oregano, thyme, ginger and the poinsettia plant I have been growing since last winter. I place them in a sunny window and they continue to do just fine. The poinsettia will be turning red soon, just in time for the December.
During fall my craving for winter foods begins. I make a pot of homemade soup every week and I also make seasonal roasted vegetables and apple crisp. Use your imagination when making soup in either a crock pot or on top of the stove. Experiment with different meats and vegetables to create your own special combinations.
One of my favorite soups starts with either homemade or low sodium chicken broth from a carton. Add carrots, onions, celery and kale or spinach. Next add sliced chicken or turkey sausage or little meatballs. To make a heartier soup you can add beans, rice or diced potatoes. Add seasonings of your choice and let it simmer till the meat is cooked through. Serve this soup with a crusty roll for a warming lunch or dinner.
Roasted seasonal vegetables are very easy to prepare and they are so good for you. In a piece of aluminum foil place peeled and chopped parsnips, carrots, onion, celery and butternut squash. Season with salt, pepper a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning and a small drizzle of olive oil. Fold the foil to close it and make a packet. Roast this in the oven at 375 degree for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve these vegetables with any kind of roasted meat or a bowl of pasta or rice. These vegetables are also good the next day as leftovers.
In my house it just isn't fall if I don't make apple crisp and it is really one of the easiest desserts to make. I use a combination of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples. It usually takes about 8 to 10 good sized apples to make a 13 x 9 sized pan of apple crisp. Wash, peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Place them in your baking dish and squeeze lemon juice over them to keep them from browning. Then in a bowl mix 1 1 /2 cups flour, 1 stick of butter softened, 1 cup of packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg. Mix this all together with a fork till crumbly and evenly spread it on top of the apples. Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the apples are tender and the topping is browned. This apple crisp is delicious with vanilla ice cream and the whipped topping of your choice.
For many reasons I look forward to and enjoy the fall season. Whether it is just being outside and enjoying the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colors of nature, or cooking delicious soups, seasonal vegetables or apple crisp, there is a lot to enjoy. It is also a time of the year I reflect and be thankful for everything I have.