I think I’ve made it pretty clear up to this point how much I love the mark of the change of seasons…a hopeful fresh start & a brand new setting, all made even greater with changes in activities & (most importantly) food! Each season has its own very special characteristics, and to each so many unique traits they really can’t even be compared. It’s October and Autumn has finally arrived, and with it so many beautiful & picturesque things there’s plenty to write about! What is it about Fall that gets journalists, everyone on the Internet, and pumpkin enthusiasts so excited?!
According to some very interesting sociology studies, the obsession with the Fall season is a social construct that actually begins when we’re children. Granted not all of us grow up with the marked Fall season in our lives, we can definitely agree that sweater weather & apple pie bring Fall to our homes no matter where we live. For those who do enjoy the season to the fullest, we are conditioned from a very early age that with Autumn come oh-so-many exciting things: back-to-school fun, Halloween, Thanksgiving, football season…not to mention the overall comfort the season transmits, think flannel shirts & thick blankets.
Let’s begin with what I believe is the most defining Fall factor: the general poetic quality the season represents…“Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower” – Albert Camus; “The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale” – Lauren DeStefano; “Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile” – John Howard Bryant. OK, I could go on, it’s just so idyllic! It’s that special time of year when the weather begins to get cooler and the nights longer, and even though there’s nothing inherent in Autumn that makes it a happy season, we definitely inject lots of meaning into it. A great excuse to cuddle up on a date, I suppose the season makes all of us romantics get inspired. There is no doubt that the reds, golden-yellows, and browns at this time of year are simply stunning & one of the highlights of the season. Not to go all scientific on you, but simply put: the days are shorter & cooler temperatures trigger the leaves’ green chlorophyll to break down, allowing other yellow & orange pigments to show through, before the leaves are finally lost in preparation for winter: don’t think about the leaves dying…think of them reaching their peak & embracing their true, beautiful Intagrammable colors!
The colorful sights & the crisp air make walks in the park as romantic as ever, and not to mention how they trigger avid photographers to go crazy posting postcard-worthy scenes. Just by turning any corner around here you’ll suddenly be surprised by the beautiful red, oranges, & yellows that were once unnoticeable greens in your backdrop! Everything & everywhere pretty much gets more atmospheric and there’s also a certain joy transmitted to us through the kids, who can just as easily have a blast with all the leaves to kick & jump into.
However…it’s rainy & wet. I’ve come to terms with those two adjectives describing every single season here in Germany; it’s inevitable. I want to waterproof everything I own. Like Spring, Autumn heralds a transition…a transition into the cold, dark, and desolate winter months. It’s a magical thing that happens, when the natural world puts a final flurry of amazing activity before slowing down until the sunshine returns in the Spring. After the warmth of summer comes the dampness of Autumn and what does that do? A whole lot. There’s an explosion of mushrooms and toadstools, for one – Smurf villages everywhere! Just take a look around and be rewarded by the sights, beauty really is all around! The pulsating clouds of hundreds of birdies all swirling & turning in unison is one of the many wildlife spectacles of the Fall season, visible as they seek out their communal roosting site for the night. Dew in Autumn, for instance, makes spiders’ webs more obvious – I wonder if this has a direct connection to Halloween?
Nature’s bounty of fruits, nuts, & seeds is also definitely on display. There’s a dazzling array of colors, shapes, & methods that plants employ for spreading the next generation for the following year. Most are also harvested by many species to build up their fat reserves for migration or hibernation; many animals & birds love fruits such as blackberries & crab apples, while acorns are the ultimate favorite of squirrels. Some even find a wonderful landing spot right smack on the top of your head! And there’s also the school yard classic, the conker, or Kastanien to us. This rich brown colored seed of the horse chestnut tree provides kids with so much fun!
Although daylight savings time is coming up, Fall Break marks the official point when it’s daytime when my daughter goes to school (the ‘before’ the Break) and nighttime when she goes back (the ‘after’). Nothing too pleasant about waking up in the dark, but we are rewarded a couple of hours later with those beautiful, crisp mornings full of sunshine and reminded once again in the afternoons how wonderful life can be with the golden, warm sun in your face. It’s dreamy!
With the seemingly colder weather comes the excuse for delicious hot drinks – naturally! – like hot cocoa, chai teas, & pumpkin spiced lattes! There’s also always room for hot cocktails, like the hot toddy or any kind of warm cider…or really just warm alcohol in general: Glögg, hot buttered Rum, among others I can’t wait to try! I personally find myself craving that extra cup of coffee in the afternoons. Regarding food, one of my favorite things for the Fall is definitely my collection of hearty soups & slow-cooked stews to prepare! Also – and somewhat obvious – pumpkin everything is key (see my separate article for pumpkin bliss alone!) Not only can you get pumpkin-flavored food, there’s also pumpkin beauty products and all sorts of pumpkin goodies – only demonstrating how much love we’ve injected to a rather ugly-looking squash cultivar.
Another great thing: fashion! We all know nothing flatters anyone or anything more than Autumn wear…add the amazing lighting & dreamy scenery and I can guarantee you’ll look amazing in all your pictures! Woolly hats, tan & brown throws, leggings, oversized sweaters & scarves and even for sleeping: get cozy with a onesie and climb under that duvet! The snuggly feeling definitely comforts. Doesn’t it make you feel all warm inside? These warm feelings obviously make people a tad more happy: cuddling in bed, sitting in front of a kindling fire, candles all around!…Warm = shelter, and shelter = not dying. Call it primitive, truth be told it’s only human!
On another note, with Autumn comes a whole lot of celebrating with gluttony-based holidays. Halloween & Thanksgiving are huge in the United States – with Halloween slowly becoming a major international party night, bringing the fun scene to people abroad. Most of the obsession with the season comes with all the fun & sharing crammed into the colorful three months, it’s more sentimental & romantic than any other season. Here in Germany, for instance, we just enjoyed a two-week Fall Break, called Herbstferien, which (although most Germans take advantage of the super cheap travel discounts for this time of the year & take their last chance to find summer sun somewhere far away) for us marks a special time in our household, as both our girls have birthdays during the Break! Add the mark of the changing season to the mix and Fall Break is truly a magical time of the year for me.
Although Spring & Fall are considered the secondary seasons to the main warm Summer & cold Winter, they originally gained popularity as being each other’s compliment as ‘those periods’ between the greater seasons, each respectively being called ‘the spring of the leaf’ and ‘the fall of the leaf’. Whatever the name, there’s no denying its beauty. And though it might seem dark after the long dog days of summer, there’s always something to look forward to…Fall or Autumn – apparently before it was Autumn & Fall, it was Harvest – is truly a season to be cherished. And with all of this leafy business going on, it certainly helps us keep our minds off the fact that Christmas is a mere 10 weeks away! Carpe diem!