Warming Up To Fall

It is fall in the south. We woke up shivering and felt the need to dig out the warmer clothing. It is funny how differently the boys react to this versus the girls. The girls squeal, “Oh goody, goody, goody! I get “new” clothes! Oh, I remember when I used to wear that and now Victoria gets it! I loved that dress/those tights/those jammies!” Contrast that with, “My jeans don’t fit! NOW what am I gonna do? I’m hosed. The next size up is not MY size. THOSE won’t fit. I’m going to freeze.” Life as they know it is coming to an end. The girls consider a new season to be a new opportunity to dress up and/or go shopping, while the boys cry over the loss of their familiar clothing. Don’t feel too sorry for them. They will be unreasonably attached to their new wardrobes by spring. 

I used to cry when I felt the temperature drop. When we lived in Colorado I realized it was going to snow from Columbus Day until Mother’s day and there was nothing I could do to get warm until mid May. I cried every time it snowed, except the first time, because the novelty overcame me that one time. Even the last two years after we moved back to Florida, I felt apprehensive when it cooled off, but now I know for sure that this is only going to be a blip on the calendar, with many warm days mixed in with the cooler ones, and most every day being absolutely perfect. It is fun to have a fire when it really does warm up the house, and when you know the next day will be too warm to light up the fireplace at all, we don’t want to miss a chance. 

The nip in the air has also made us think of our favorite fall foods. We had a chance to buy apples fresh from the orchard for .63 cents a pound, so I did a little planning and ordered five bushels, all different varieties. Most of this will become applesauce, but we will also have pie, baked apples,  apple butter and apple everything else. Last time I only bought two bushels and the applesauce was gone in a flash. It also took quite a bit of time to process it all by hand. This time I pulled out the Victorio food mill I purchased a few months back, called my young engineer in to assemble it, baked the apples in a roaster and in the oven, and my elves took over from there. After they processed a whole bushel of baked apples, they let me have a token turn at the crank, but I was completely content to let them do all the grunt work. The next day was the same. Still a line next to the crank and cheers when I announced that a new batch of apples was cooked and ready to go. So far we have canned 21 quarts, eaten at least two more, made two apple pies, an apple salad, and eaten as many as we want out of hand. What is for snack? Apples. What is for breakfast? Baked apples. Now that I am thinking about it, let’s have apples for lunch, too. And dessert. 

By the third day of churning out the apple sauce, the boys decided to go shoot each other with Nerf guns instead of turn the crank on the food mill. So I brought out another gadget. When they figured out I had an apple peeler/slicer/corer, they  all lined up again. After a half hour or so, the lure of food prep had begun to wear off and only Victoria the Faithful stayed by my side. We filled the roaster with 16 pounds of peeled/sliced/cored apples for a family sized batch of apple butter. We discovered that apple peels can be longer than a six year old and they make intriguing lassos and jump ropes. We also ended up with a flock sized bowl of scraps for the chickens. Even Snowflake has seen some perks in the menu lately. 

Maybe it is due to the smell of cinnamon wafting through the cottage, but for once, I find myself willing to think about the holidays in October, instead of panic in the middle of November. I asked the children what holiday activities were important to them and wrote down all the things that make the season merry and bright for them. I was surprised at how simple their desires are. They really like our decorations, especially the real squash rotting on the mantle. 

They listed recipes they loved: rolled cookies, chocolate fondue, wassail, gingerbread houses, a birthday cake for Jesus. Of course they assume we will enjoy turkey, ornaments and presents. When pressed they admitted they did like our small collection of Christmas movies. Overall, I was surprised by the simplicity of their requests, and I feel more enthusiastic about making them happen, because I know it really matters to them. What a relief. I think I can do this without becoming overwhelmed!

© Being Fruitful, 2012