Fall is a special time of year
A chill in the air
When summer gives way to fall, there is something a bit thrilling about that first noticeable chill in the air. People start digging out the long sleeve shirts and sweaters and turning the air conditioners off. That chill in the air signals the coming colder months and the festivities they bring. People around the world hold celebrations of various types during the fall and winter months.
For some, fall is a time for hot beverages and long walks among the colorful leaves. For others, it means a time to start preparing and stocking up for the cold winter. The chill in the air brings about many thoughts and feelings about summer's end. Many people enjoy summer activities like swimming and hiking but also are glad when fall arrives to relieve the heat.
The chilly air is also a sign school will be starting, soon followed by the laughter of children playing in leaf piles. There is nothing quite like the joyous sound of children laughing and having a good time crunching those leaves. To let you in on a little secret, some of us kids at heart like raking up big piles of leaves just so we can jump in the middle of them!
There is definitely something unique and special about that chill in the air. It affects people in different ways, but it is there none the less. Some people feel a bit more playful, some more adventurous and some more domestic (like cooking and baking more often). Personally, I feel all of the above. I enjoy jumping into the leaves and being outside in general and love, love to cook and bake when I have the chance!
Comfort from the kitchen
One of the nice things about the weather turning cooler is that it affords the opportunity to enjoy some heartier comfort foods. Foods like soups and stews, roast and veggies and maybe even fresh baked breads. These foods stick to your ribs a bit better than a tasty salad (popular light fare in the summer months). The reason you want food to "stick to your ribs" is that your body needs the extra energy to function when it is cold outside.
I have fond memories of being a child coming from school in late October. I would walk in the door and the heavenly aroma of homemade chili, beef stew or chicken and dumplings would greet me. Fresh biscuits or cornbread often would complete the meal. My mom made the best hot chocolate in a pan, on the stove. No packets of cocoa for us! No ma'am, she used milk and either melted baking chocolate or used chocolate syrup and a drop or two of vanilla or peppermint extract. Oh and of course she topped the mugs with marshmallows.
Another favorite warm beverage in the fall is hot apple cider. The smell of the cider simmering in the slow cooker is like having fall in a pot. It has a spicy, sweet and tangy aroma and flavor just perfect for quiet evenings or festive get togethers.
For some reason, cooking and baking just seem to be a part of fall and winter. The cooler weather of fall seems more tolerable when there is some homemade goodness waiting in the kitchen. It is for this reason many people take to using a slow cooker when the weather turns chilly. You can literally fix it, set it and forget it. At the end of the day you have a home cooked meal without the hassle. It is also nice to have a delicious aroma wafting through your home all day.
Slow cookers are the way to go for many, many types of foods. However, some things are best when they come out of the conventional oven. Cookies, pies and breads are all examples of "lovin straight out of the oven". Bread makers are a wonderful convenience and produce fantastic breads. Even so, there are still times where old fashioned bread baking is good too. Microwaves are a life saver for many people, but seldom can produce perfect cookies.
The point here is that even with time saving appliances, there is something about fall that makes some of us want to take the extra time to create those comfort foods.
Fall is probably best known for the brilliant colors the leaves turn in some areas. Yes, I could do a little bit of research and tell you the scientific reasons for this, but not this time. Instead, the focus is all about the wonder and magic of nature. No man made decorations can compare to the beauty created in nature. The leaves and foliage during the fall season are a prime example.
You do not have to be a nature lover in order to glance around and appreciate the rich colors of fall. The reds, purples, greens, yellows, golds, browns and oranges are breathtaking. The leaves changing colors transform trees and even the ground into a fall garden. Mother nature truly is the original and best exterior designer.
The colorful views can be awe inspiring and the smells come a close second. The smells outdoors during fall are earthy and pleasant, to some of us anyway. A walk in a park or down a nature trail in the fall can be an uplifting experience. Everything seems just a bit quieter and more serene.
Some might say that fall brings in an almost mysterious quality to the world. Perhaps this is why holidays like Halloween (October 31st) are so popular. Rain and mist are common in some areas during the fall which can cast an eerie appearance around lakes, wooded places and even in cemeteries. While this may cause an uneasy feeling to creep over some people, the visual effect is still beautiful to see.
Whether you have done it a hundred times or never, take a drive/walk through a quiet street or park and take in the gorgeous colors and earthy scents of fall. You won't be sorry!
Enjoy the season
There may be some of you that get a little cranky when you feel that chilly bite in the air when fall comes around. Maybe you dread the coming harshness of winter or just hate to see summer fun in the sun come to an end. Whatever your reason for dislike, this year try a little bit of a different approach. Go leaf looking, go for a casual walk in a local park or even just down your street. Breathe in that crisp air and listen to the quiet, think about a favorite comfort food or about how awesome it would be to jump into a huge pile of leaves. Now, it possible that thinking about leaf jumping can lead to random acts of well...leaf jumping. Prepare for fun, you have been warned.
Fall is a wondrous time when the foliage changes colors, leaves crunch delightfully under your feet and hearty comfort foods warm the body and soul. Soak up every moment you can for the snow will be flying before you know it.
© 2014 Tammy Cramblett