"Come ," said the Wind to the Leaves one day.
"Come over the meadow and we will play.
Put on your dresses of red and gold.
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
I get it. It's a little sappy and not lacking in silliness to pine for leaves wearing read and gold when you live on the Texas coast. This time of year wears a vastly different wardrobe and doesn't sit around moping for Walden Pond.
But there is something so beguiling about the Fall. It's tempting to say it's owed purely to the fact that growing up where I did, the Autumn season was a near mystery. A unicorn comprised of weather patterns and cozy firesides that a central Texan can rarely catch and certainly never quite keep a hold of. Yet from what I can tell, everybody loves this season, no matter whether you're lucky enough to enjoy it for 3 days or 3 months. It's colorful, magical and pregnant with the promises of family, tradition, good food and stories.
Here in Galveston County we're fated to never claim the leaf-peeping phenomenon of our New England peers, but I never stop waking to each chilly morning with a bundle of child-like excitement. Bring on the oatmeal, bring on the cider.
This week had us catching up after the heavy rains of the previous week; four inches of rain equates to a moat of a vegetable field and the threat of getting irreparably stuck in mud for days afterward. Maybe I know someone who's had to call a certain bearded McFarmer for physical assistance in removing herself from the tarpits between cabbages and broccolis a few times. Maybe I know her.
We removed all the okra and basil from the old summer beds, preparing to sow in covercrops of cowpeas and buckwheat. I didn't have the heart to pull up all the basil, as the honeybees were swarming all over the few remaining plants, rooting out those last sacred nectar sources as it gets colder and closer (hopefully) to a freeze. Sowing the cover crops feels perfectly Autumnal, draping the bare earth with a blanket of green for a well-deserved rest.
The sweet potatoes are dug and curing in the warmth of our office, slowly sweetening up so we can serve them at market as Thanksgiving fodder. We hear owls more and more often at night, which I'm not entirely certain is thanks to Fall weather, but it feels as if it should be.
There is one Autumnal activity that we can absolutely share with our Northern scarf-clad neighbors. The burning of brush is the perfect Fall chore; in fact, as soon as I finish this ode to Apple-Picking Envy I' off to help Alex burn piles of prunings from the orchard.
Incidentally, this one true Autumn staple that we can share with the rest of the country reaffirms the romanticized picture created in my childhood. I've had a fuzzy memory of What Fall Should Be for years now, and with the help of --guess who?--- he internet, I've located the culprit, sourced from an old book of children's poems that I once had long, long ago:
Thanks, Robert Louis Stevenson. And while I don't condone children doing farmwork without adult supervision, here's to Autumn, foraging bees, and to stretching those few chilly days into a year's worth of Fall love.