Terri Kaiser

Well, summer is in the process of packing up and heading down the road for next year. Gosh, I wish she'd stay a bit longer. I know not everyone feels that way, but I do. Spring generally gets out of the way quickly, thanks to winter being such a hog, and makes way for those long, drawn-out days of summer.

But what comes next? Fall! Autumn if you want to be fancy. As much as I love summer, and I know this will be upsetting to her, but fall is my favorite. Yes, summer, it's true. I hate to play favorites, but fall wins hands down.

He creeps in gently with a cooling of the evenings, then blossoms into an artist's delight with color everywhere, crisp days with vivid blue skies, and the Earth releases her bounty of fruits and vegetables. The moon hangs huge and cheesy at night and the sun gives in and eases the heat of the previous season. And with the drop in temperature, we're all getting ready for when Mr. Winter bullies his way in.

We can't help it. It's ingrained in us to 'get ready'. The buzz of the chainsaw signals the start of the annual stocking up of the firewood while canners spit and steam on the stove, preserving food that will line the basement shelves.

I like to can, but don't do it a lot. My favorite thing to can is pickled beets. As much as I love to eat them, the aroma of the cinnamon and cloves fills the house and tells me it's fall more than anything else. Before Bambi took out our apple tree, (it was loaded with apples until it was viciously pulled over onto its side — the WHOLE tree!) I would spend an afternoon making everything apple. Pies, cake, bread, and apple chips in the dehydrator.

Actually, the naughty deer probably did my waistline a favor. But of course, then there's zucchini cake and cupcakes and bread. Not to mention the blackberries are ready for picking and heaven knows, I just have to make something with them. It wouldn't be right not to use what goodness the Earth affords us. And don't forget the corn—sweet and juicy and at it's best dripping with butter.

Yeah, food might have a lot to do with my love of fall.

Nearly two years ago our youngest son got married in October. Being that this is my favorite time of year, I was like a kid in a candy shop when it came to decorating. It was fun to see how much of it I could do with what I could find in nature. The dining tables were lined down the center with evergreen boughs, branches and leaves of all colors. We had hay bales and sunflowers and pots of kalanchoe. And this was one time where our flea market finds came in very handy. We decorated with old cow bells and buckets, antique bottles and weathered doors. It was so fun!

When the leaves begin to turn, I find myself wishing time would slow, that the colors could last a bit longer. Once those leaves begin to drift away from their mooring on the branches that hold them, the colder temps are not far behind. And then ...winter.

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