A cold heavy rain fell last night and made the glorious fall colours look a little deary in the subdued daylight. Despite the darkening effect I was still cheered by the sights, sounds and chill of a cool autumn day. Pumpkins at the door of many local village houses or piled at the end of farm gates are a comforting display as everyone gathers for the holiday weekend. Later these pumpkins will be hallowed out and lit to add to the time honored rural celebration of Halloween.
This time of year is a favourite experience for me full of sensory and nostalgic pleasures as I recall all the hard work of gathering in the last of the garden produce, picking up the windfall apples, canning applesauce, bringing in the plants we could save from the frost, taking in the washing from the clothesline with cold, half numb fingers and doing any number of odd jobs to ready the farm for winter.
As the weather changes, the memories surface. My mom never, ever stopped working at gathering in the last of the fruit and vegetables available on our farm. She used everything in canning, freezing, baking and cooking. My dad worked long hours at a factory in town and farmed full time as well. My memory of him at this time of year is the sight of him walking down the lane way to the barn to do his chores at night and the lights turned on in the barn as he spent long hours tending to our animals.
Mom and Dad would take our apples to the neighbour’s cider press, make barrels of sauerkraut using our great uncle’s sauerkraut “maker” and load up the cold cellar with the potatoes, onions, squash and apples that had been temporarily stored in the outdoor shed until the temperature threatened to freeze everything.
Apple and pumpkin pies, baked in quantities and stored in the back pantry are vividly recalled as I can smell the spices in the air and picture the fluted designs of my mom’s pastry crust. Dad would watch the hockey game and his favourite singer, Juliet before reading over his lessons for Sunday.
The rest of us in the family were involved in late crop harvest, school, music lessons, concerts, cooking, baking, cleaning, going to church as a family, in a swirl of duties and expectations as time went by. The wide range of ages in my siblings made our roles stick for life. I will always be the baby sister even though I have a much younger brother. My sister will always be somewhat in charge.
The sight of pumpkins stacked by the door, the denuded garden patch and the reality of the cold, heavy rain as it drenches everything reminds me of many things as well as humbles my spirit. I truly love this time of year.