This is my time of the year.
When you can smell the crunchy fallen leaves tumbling through the air and forming piles on every surface. When you awake to dew thick enough it seems as though it just rained. When most days are cloud filled, making every sunny day much more stunning. When the dew turns to frost and every leaf and twig is covered with a crystal lace. When you need a sweatshirt in the morning and are sweating by noon. When every night seems to have a full, fat moon smiling above. When apples and cider and doughnuts are a constant craving. When you must watch for ghouls and demons and witches. When the Great Pumpkin rises from the pumpkin patch. When autumn is the only place you'd like to be.
I have always had a pull to this time of the year. An insatiable appetite for everything that fall brings. After school I would run off the bus to pile leaves as high as the rake and my arms would let me and then dive head first into the pile. I would drag my dog in, and cover him up, and laugh as he darted free of me leaving a trail of cartwheeling leaves behind him. I would sprint up the hill behind my house to a lone apple tree that my great-grandfather likely planted years ago. The apples were small and tart and not particularly tasty, but they were free and dripped with the taste of fall. I would go into the woods and sit. I would be content with the fiery colors surrounding me and as the flames fell, I would try to catch them. I was always fascinated in knowing I was the first, and potentially only, person to ever hold this leaf. I would wait for anything to come by and be ready to take a picture of it. I would then quickly be distracted by a caterpillar or a chipmunk.
Years later I discovered a golden delicious apple tree my grandparents owned. The tree produced giant, softball sized, orbs of uneven, anemic, mottled yellow; but a bite into the apple yielded an explosion of sweet, tangy, luscious ambrosia. This tree propagated a fruit I felt unworthy of eating. But, I felt more worthy than the deer, who were also onto my secret nectar-of-the-gods, so I ate them anyway and enjoyed them until I felt ill. The next year, my grandparents cut the tree down. Every time I see a roadside stand or farmers market selling golden delicious apples, I buy them, and I am always disappointed. I fear that no golden delicious apple will ever be able to share even a small piece of my memory with how good those apples were.
When we were younger, my sisters and I would construct our own haunted houses in our living room. One of us would set everything up while the other two waited elsewhere. When the "house" was perfected, we would turn off the lights and tour the others' creation. I would rent books from the library for terrifying inspiration but all I remember learning was how to make thunder with a piece of paper. In retrospect, the instructions to do so was to rumble a sheet of poster board, which I didn't have access to. I improvised with a regular sheet of 8 x 11 paper and produced a sound reminiscent of someone shaking a piece of 20 lb, acid free paper. Occasionally we would have made construction paper ghosts or cut out bats and the architect of the haunted house would hide and leap out at some point to add additional fright. But my favorite decoration was the rocking horse our father made covered in a white blanket. I suppose I originally created this to look like a ghost, but I quickly learned to place it just out of reach of the light seeping in from other rooms and directly in the path of where my sisters would walk. One of them would quickly stumble over it, get hurt, and stop playing with me for the night, but it was worth it. What's scarier than potential for bodily harm?
Lately it hasn't been the fall I was hoping for. No crisp smells. No crunchy leaves. No colors of fire leaping from tree to tree. It has, instead, been a water-logged, mushy leaved, lack luster season. I am grasping at the hope that there will be a week when the rain abates and the autumn leaves paint the forest. I was planning on getting some supplementary fall pictures this weekend... but if I did that the pictures would all be grey, wet woods or flooded mud flows. Here's some pictures from previous years to get a small fall fix.