Every year I want to do something seasonal that has to do with Autumn. Not sure why.
The colors are breathtaking but it’s not enough to just gaze upon the treelines while traveling to and fro, or participate in an ordinary event set in such colors. No, I want to attend a Fall event that is outside, only happens in the Fall, and engages the season in a meaningful way. When the kids were young, it was the pumpkin patch: one of several carnival-like arenas with certain semi-mandatory features like pumpkins to buy (preferably picked from a patch), a hay ride, a maze, drinks like hot chocolate or apple cider, things to look at, things to buy, trinkets, crafts, nick-nacks. If possible, animals to pet, pumpkin-oriented games, etc. Maybe that’s why we began two years ago to host such an event in our backyard.
But as the kids have grown, they have less interest in the pumpkin patch. Instead, we consider an afternoon trip to skyline drive to see the mountain vistas (THE place to see the autumn colors), or a day at the Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, one of several around the country that happen only in the fall on a few second weekend dates and draw crowds from all around the DMV. Or we try to keep our eye on the calendar for a random rural VA or MD town hosting their big annual town festival featuring some signature fruit, beverage, or other edible and drawing vendors and artisans from around the area (e.g. Poolesville Day).
I would enjoy these events even if they had nothing to do with Fall: people, culture, outdoors – you can’t go wrong! But there’s something about this time of year that draws me in apart from these. Winter is about surviving the cold and the harsh weather conditions. Spring is about birth, renewal, opening up, and coming out. Summer is about rest, relaxation, time off, and diversion. Fall is about none of these.
Fall is about returning to what’s important. Fall is about facing realities whether it be weather, routine, or lifespan. Fall is about getting back to life in all its rigor, candor, and splendor. In a sense, it’s not a season so much as it is life as is without the distraction of extreme heat, extreme cold, or frenzied planting. To be sure, it used to be all about ‘bringing in the sheaves’ as it were, that is, harvesting. But urban life has detached us from all that.
For me, Fall proves once again to me that the temperature won’t remain in the 70s all year nor will the days be lazy long forever. That schedules and workloads and deadlines are the stuff of life and should not be vacationed from perpetually. That there is beauty and meaning and purpose in the created order even when it looks like everything is dying. Fall reminds me that I can be grateful in all seasons, all circumstances, all stages of life. It’s not my favorite season of the year but it has grown on me.
And I guess I need an outdoor event to remind me of all that.