Colours, cooler temperatures and lots of leaves to crunch underfoot — these are some of my favourite things about autumn. I don’t do well in the hot and humid summers we typically get, although this year’s wasn’t bad at all, to my great relief. When the thermometer’s hitting 32 degrees Celsius or 90 Fahrenheit, and the humidity’s also that high, summer can be like walking around in a steam bath. A lot of people become ill in those summers, and I’m invariably hiding inside to avoid throbbing migraines brought on by the blazing sunshine and heat. I start to relax when Autumn sets in.
There’s something so cozy about our Autumns, snuggling into a toasty sweater or hoodie and strolling along hiking trails or through farm markets. As soon as pumpkins show up, I’m bringing home four or five in different colours to decorate our front porch, and I start cooking hearty stews and baking cakes to have with a cup of hot tea.
Southern Ontario has been blessed with glorious fall colours this year. That isn’t always the case; what’s needed are
cold snaps (without frost, according to experts) to tell the trees that winter’s coming and it’s time to stop producing the green chlorophyll pigment which produces energy from sunlight and settle into their dormant winter state, and
enough rainfall to nourish the trees so that they keep their leaves long enough for the other pigments to shine once the chlorophyll disappears.
Normally we southerners have to go farther north in our province to see such vivid colours, and in many years the leaves are all on the ground by Halloween, which is fun to walk around in but a little depressing. We’re not guaranteed such splendour, and when I was out taking these photos, a lot of other people were out making the most of the beauty as well.
This October, Mother Nature had her entire palette out.
Moving into November, the trees were about half-bare, creating a fabulous carpet of crisp fallen leaves to walk around on. It’s a simple pleasure, but a profound one, and the first few leaves on the ground every year are a harbinger of autumn pleasures.
Once the leaves start to fall, we get to appreciate the sculptural art of the plants themselves. The mottled bark of some trees…
…the colours and shapes of giant leaves as they pack up for the winter…
…ripened berries offering food for birds and animals that winter here…
…the mellower autumn sun highlighting the shapes of plants getting ready for sleep…
So for those of you who don’t have the magic of Autumn on your doorstep, I hope these images will give you a little virtual taste of it.
All photos are by me and all rights are reserved. A selection of my best photos are available for purchase in a number of formats on my site at Fine Art America.
It’s straight out of my childhood. I always looked forward
to the return to school, Thanksgiving turkey, and, best of all, Halloween!
As an adult I only have Thanksgiving turkey and Halloween in
my life, but I have a great deal of nostalgia around all of them.
People seem to either love or despise nostalgia — I know people who feel it’s just indulging in sentimentality — but psychologists have done studies around it, and results have shown that there are benefits to spending some time in pleasant reminiscing:
The boost to your mood when recalling a positive
experience. My hubby and I often find ourselves laughing at something from our
travels that happens comes to mind from something that’s just occurred. It’s
really special to us that we’ve shared those experiences together, and those
memories have on occasion been a bulwark against something stressful that’s
happening in the present.
Researchers found a strong social component,
where people experiencing nostalgia were more motivated to connect with other
people. It may be for the often communal aspect of the shared memories.
When we’re reminiscing, it’s akin to reading or
watching a good story, but better because it’s from our own lives and
actually happened to us.
For the elderly, who can suffer from feelings of
isolation, it may inspire them to share their experiences and the wisdom
Autumn is my favourite season, and Halloween my favourite
‘holiday’, dating back to my childhood and a time when as kids we were
innocently and fully free to enjoy it. It was the one night where we were
allowed to prowl the streets without a parent in tow, and we made the most of
My neighbourhood was lined with trees, and as the air got cooler and the beautiful red and gold leaves began to drift to the ground, shuffling through them on the way to school every day, breathing in the earthy smell and crunching them underfoot, became an annual fall ritual. I would often pick up an especially ‘perfect’ leaf to press between book pages and keep in my room.
The scent of grapes would also fill the air – a lot of
people had grapevines in their yards at the time, so it’s an aroma that
instantly takes me back to childhood, although it’s increasingly rare.
Each grade at school always put on a Halloween party, and,
at least for me, weeks of planning went into my costume. My mom had a trunk
full of old clothes, which she readily helped me transform into a variety of
Anticipation on October 31st was intense – the
daylight hours couldn’t pass fast enough. We would put our costumes on and wait
feverishly for dusk to fall – it was an unwritten rule to not start
trick-or-treating before dark! – and for jack-o-lanterns to come to life on
front porches as the streetlights came on. As soon as that happened, our
parents would let us out the door for a night of adventure.
We always made a beeline to any places giving out candied
apples or popcorn balls, and then, in the mysterious darkness that could be
concealing who knew what unearthly creatures and the chill breezes that felt
like the tap of the grave on our shoulder, we would go up and down the streets,
deciding which houses looked welcoming.
There were always a few houses whose inhabitants were either
not kid-friendly, or (to us children) downright creepy. If the former, we
didn’t bother visiting them, but if the latter and there was a pumpkin out, we
would have a discussion as to whether we felt safe going up to the front door;
sometimes we did, with some trepidation, but sometimes the risk outweighed the
possibility of more loot.
Once we’d completed our circuit, and usually with a full
pillowcase of candy, we’d head toward our respective homes to dump out the
contents onto a table and see what goodies we’d accumulated. It was always a
great night, and I regret strongly that children now can’t have the same
My nostalgia for those experiences has been a strong
influence on creating a spooky effect for the kids that come to our door
trick-or-treating. They all seem to enjoy getting a little scared, and their
parents get a kick out of it as well. I didn’t realize how much the children
enjoyed the creepy contact lenses I’ve worn with certain costumes until a
parent commented once that his kids look forward to it every year.
My hubby helps me decorate our front entrance but allows me
to do the dressing-up and hand out the candies. He’s invariably lurking in the
background, though, to watch the kids react. We’ve put out a variety of
decorations, including some large stone gargoyles that we added glowing red
eyes to, and there’s usually fog swirling through the bushes and along the
ground. Our house has a split entryway, and the kids have even commented on the
interior Halloween décor that they can see behind me as I’m putting treats in
Halloween allows us to experience some chills in a safe way,
and allows both children and adults to step out of our normal lives and become
something entirely different for a night. It doesn’t have the emotional baggage
or responsibilities of Christmas, and it gives us an opportunity for some good,
The proliferation of Halloween-themed cooking contests on
the Food Network have instituted a new annual tradition for me, and I now have
a well-decorated Halloween tree on our dining-room buffet, but you might still sometimes
catch me romping through a pile of raked autumn leaves, to my hubby’s combined
dismay and amusement. Enjoy your autumn, and I hope you get as big a kick out
of Halloween next week as I do.