Autumn on My Mind

Are you following Kerry at Love Those Hands at Home?
If not, you won’t want to miss her sumptuous love letter to Autumn. Here’s an excerpt

Autumn seduces me, energizes me, makes me feel alive. My blood sings and fizzes like champagne when autumn comes to me.  – KerryCan

You can read her entire post here.

It’s a gorgeous piece of writing, and one that perfectly captures my feelings of the approaching season.

Even in California with our subtle, seasonal changes, the arrival of autumn is unmistakable. Breezes finally blow through the valley, chasing away the ugly smog. The last of the pumpkin vines shrivel and die, but not before gifting us their wonderful fruit.

Dusk settles in earlier, and for this fair-skinned gardener, working longer hours outdoors is no longer unthinkable.

I cleared out the back corner of the garden, pruning away overhanging limbs, dead leaves and the growing layer of pine needles.  Look at this pile?

garden waste pile

Pile of pine needles, dead leaves and tree pruning. (Slinky’s tiny feet in the background)

garden corner after pruning

After: I don’t have a good before, but you saw the pile (Slinky’s ears in the lower corner)

Ironically, the pumpkins I planted in May were a complete fizzle, while the self seeded (squirrel-planted) vines were a hit. One of those vines produced four tall, hefty carving pumpkins, ready for our resident, master carver (Mike).

A second vine produced one basketball sized pumpkin, took a rest, then pumped out a second pumpkin, turning a lovely shade of orange.

round pumpkins four days apart

A third vine tip-toed up on us, producing a perfect little pumpkin the size of a cherry tomato. Then in the dead of night a critter ate it for supper.  Boo-hoo! But wait…another pumpkin eventually took its place and it too is turning orange.

protected pumpkin

“Under Armour” Pumpkin

protecting the pumpkin long view

Tiny pumpkin, big fortress

Summer is far from over. Even when the autumnal equinox rolls around, we’re still in for a few more heatwaves. That said, the California Gray squirrels have stepped up their game, knowing intuitively what lies ahead. Indoors, Slinky is getting a head start on snuggle weather. She’s resting in my lap on a soft blanket, her coat still shiny on her diminished frame.

slinky, august 2016

Slinky Malinki

There’s an interesting conversation going on in the comment thread of Kerry’s post on the origins of  the use of the word “fall” vs “autumn”. Here’s what I learned:

Fall and autumn are both accepted and widely used terms for the season that comes between summer and winter. Some who consider British English the only true English regard fall as an American barbarism, but this attitude is not well founded. Fall is in fact an old term for the season, originating in English in the 16th century or earlier. It was originally short for fall of the year or fall of the leaf, but it commonly took the one-word form by the 17th century, long before the development of American English. So while the term is now widely used in the U.S., it is not exclusively American, nor is it American in origin. – Source: Grammarist

I love learning the origin of a word. While I know my Southern Hemisphere friends are looking forward to fall, how about the rest of you? Are you ready to say goodbye to summer and to welcome the ‘fall of the year’?

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29 thoughts on “Autumn on My Mind

  1. Autumn/Fall is one season I just don’t see in this particular zone of the southern hemisphere. We don’t get a sharp or cold enough temperature drop to make the leaves turn and fall from the trees, as a general rule. Species which are deciduous elsewhere don’t usually drop their leaves here, although a cold night or two may make it happen. I must say, I miss autumn colour. On the other side of the coin, we don’t do Spring much either! Two seasons, that’s us. Wet and Dry. I’m sorry the Dry will be coming to a close some time around November, as it’s the time of year that like you, I can spend more time in the back yard…

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    • Wet and dry. Interesting. I would miss those seasons most of all. I guess we all get used to what nature serves us. But I think we crave a bit of what’s most familiar, what we knew as a child. Our first Christmas in California was so strange. No snow, no frost, no sledding.

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      • My birthday is in January, and until I emigrated here, was always celebrated in the depth of winter. Now, it’s in high summer, and much more enjoyable, even though those damn numbers keep getting higher every year…

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  2. As I told Kerry, stop rushing it. Remember what comes after. Winter. Ugh. Double ugh. Fall will be here along about the 20th or 21st of the month. Until then, I’m savoring the last of the summer <:-)= with a hurricane this weekend!

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  3. Daffodils and warm days are here! 🙂 Kerry is a long time friend of mine and I love her posts – she writes so evocatively I think! That was an interesting piece about the use of the word ‘fall’. I have never heard it used by anyone other than Americans, so maybe in modern times it has emigrated? 🙂 You have done an amazing amount of clearing in your garden and the squirrels pumpkins look pretty amazing too! I love the protective thingy about the tiny pumpkin. I hope it does a good job! I love that the squirrels are contributing back something to your happiness in exchange maybe for wrecking your swing cover? See, they pay attention and knowing how much you love Halloween, they carefully proffered up pumpkin seeds to the soil………. Hopefully there will be some grand pumpkins to be carved next month 🙂 I have just begun the annual pyjama party here, so may be off line for most of the coming week. Have a wonderful start to September Alys!

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    • My gosh, Pauline, I’m a week behind again! Goodness me. I can’t wait to hear more about your slumber party. I hope you were properly spoiled.
      Hurrah for your warm days and daffodils. Spring has sprung.

      As for the squirrels and the seeds and the pumpkins, kismet. I get a little thrill whenever I see them.

      Kerry is wonderful indeed. Aren’t we all so fortunate? xo

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  4. Alys! Thank you for saying such nice things and for linking to my post! You wrote a very fine tribute to fall, here, too! And I love that you went and looked up the autumn/fall connection–I was toooooooo lazy but what you found is fascinating. Your pumpkins are great–it must seem like magic to watch those things grow and turn orange. And my older cats know fall is coming, too–they come in earlier at night and are migrating to what I think of their winter spots. Pretty soon their fur will thicken . . .

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    • You’re welcome! And thank you. (We can do this all day) 😉

      Pumpkins are great fun. We started growing them as a happy accident when my then three-year-old spilled some of the squirrel feed on the walkway. We brushed it in to the shrubs and from there we grew three pumpkins and a pair of sunflowers. We were hooked!

      I like imagining your cats migrating to their warm spots.

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  5. Thanks so much for looking that up for us. I love autumn, the fall of the year. 🙂 The autumn colors and the fall of the leaves. I like what comes after as well. Summer is my least favorite season. I love playing in the dirt and working in the garden, just not the heat. Your refreshed yard looks amazing. The armor around the pumpkin is quite pretty! I’m working on that next week as well. We have rain tonight and tomorrow. I asked for it and mother nature obliged me. 🙂 That will make the yard clean up easier. I will try to get a blog written this next week. I have quiet time coming. 🙂 Yay! Give sweet Slinky a pet for me. Hugs to you.

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  6. I am more than ready for fall! I appreciate your reference to the subtle California changes as the season shifts from summer to fall. It is indeed subtle, but I have been observing changes in the slant of daylight and my backyard squirrels are feasting on acorns and burying them all over my yard. I love watching them give way to instinct and bury their winter meal even though in Los Angeles, they can count on an easy meal year round. It’s been a long, hot summer and I’m more than ready for fall…by my calculations, the heat should be gone by mid-November! LOL!

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  7. It’s Pumpkin time! Great hall and I suppose a big thank you for your squirrels. They are givers and takers apparently. I still adore the photo’s we took at that fantastic pumpkin farm. It’s very cool to see all the varieties that are grown. Honestly, I had no idea. Until then, I’d only seen orange pumpkins. My favourite pics are us with that gorgeous Hen. Man she was soft 😀 I haven’t needed to do any yard cleanup yet. The planters are hanging in there. It’s not too far down the road though I’m sure. What a good job you and Slinky did there…teehee…I love that her tiny head is in the shot. I laughed when I read ‘pumpkin amor’…..you’re ever resourceful…are those fruit bowls? I hope the squirrels find them as intimidating as I find them cute 😀 I was reading some Farmers Almanac predictions about Winter 2016. They all seemed to think the mid west was going to get slammed but the West would be milder than normal. I guess time will tell. mwaaaaa xoxox K/B/p

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    • Yes! My favorite. How I wish you were coming again in October. We always have such a good time together, here, there, everywhere…but especially when pumpkins are involved. 😉

      What a sweet hen and how soft and lovely to hold her.

      I’m happy to hear your garden is hanging in there, but I know too that it can change on a dime when it comes to Edmonton weather. We had a tease of fall last week: cool temps, breezes, slightly improved air quality and the like. Now, bam, we’re back into the mid 90’s F, spare the air and no breeze. Ugh. I’m so ready for fall.

      I’ve been meaning to read more of the Farmer’s Almanac. Isn’t it amazing how long they’ve been predicted the weather?

      Hugs, xo

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      • Weather update, I awoke at the crack of 8am to a smattering of sun…it was trying. By the time I had coffee in hand and bird feed filled and a few deadheads done, it started to rain. That lasted all of 5 minutes, now it’s super cloudy…who know’s what to wear today? So hopefully this will mosy on down your way. Hang in there, Fall is on the way.
        The Almanac I found online happened to be the American version, so I should look for the Canadian one too. I’m off to Urban b4 they open to hang some more decor. Then picking up Aunty K for lunch and then we’re going to see (finally) The Secret Life Of Pets. I seem to get so much more done when Jim’s away, LOL xox I miss you too ❤ k

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  8. I’m so glad that I’ve been using the correct term for my favorite season! I’d already read Kerry’s post and agree with you 100%. It’s a wonderful piece.
    Alys, I’ll always think of you when I see pumpkins. I’m thrilled that you have some beauties. Love that image of the “Under Armour” pumpkin.
    I’m looking forward to the fall of the year, but enjoying these summer days as well.

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    • Laurie, I’m delighted to know the origins of the term fall. All this time I assumed it was related to falling leaves. I love learning something new. It makes me smile inwardly that pumpkins make you think of me. Thank you. We just checked on our last two growing pumpkins today. They’re close to harvesting which will bring us to seven. Love you, Laurie.

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  9. I too was pleased to learn the term ‘fall’ for autumn. I like both words for this season – and it is increasingly becoming my favourite time of year. We seem to be having a warm end to the summer here but I am looking to a nip in the air.

    Last winter was horrid as the constant rain meant floss and temps which were as high as the coolest days this summer. Hopefully, there won’t be a repeat this time round.

    Anyway, great news on your pumpkin front, Alys. Mine are all still babies. It will definitely be well into fall before they come off the vine!

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