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Phyllis S. Donovan: When Fall Is Knocking At Our Door

Once Labor Day has come and gone, our thoughts inexorably turn to fall.

With students back in school, only the hardiest of fall flowers still left in our flowerbeds, garden crops harvested, and most of the local fall fairs now behind us, it is time to admit that fall is just around the corner.

Yes, the calendar shows that it’s still two weeks until the season actually changes but with 90-degree heat most of last week and the air conditioner humming, it just hasn’t felt like autumn was imminent.

But it won’t be long before the trees will start to change color and, admittedly, that to me is one of the perks of the fall season. We have a lot of sugar maples nearby including one in my own front yard, and these trees sport the bright reds and oranges that make the season so spectacular.

This is the part of fall that I like the best.

I am not fond of the sudden drop in temperature which will bring the night frosts that blacken the flowers in my front yard, especially the New Guinea impatiens that have been so beautiful this year. They have added the bright touches of deep pink and rose to my front garden all summer and I will miss them, along with the other floral annuals my daughter Peggy planted out there in the spring.

I guess the bright fall foliage of the trees will have to make up for the loss of my flowers as autumn becomes full-blown.

One reason we did welcome the arrival of autumn each year, however, is that it signaled the time for apple picking with our grandchildren. I remember one year especially when we took a pair of our preschoolers, then living with their parents in an apartment on the upper west side of New York City. There were no apples in Central Park which was literally in their backyard at the time. So we had them come up “to the country” for the day to pick apples.

We took them to Lyman Orchards where, at the time, some of the trees were so laden with apples the children could reach up and pick them off the trees while standing on the ground. I loved that the rows of trees were labeled with the names of the variety of apples: Macouns, Mackintosh, Empires, Cortlands, Red Delicious and so many others.

We wandered through the orchard with the bags they provided and filled them up with our favorite varieties. Just as we finished picking, it started to rain so we quickly paid for our booty and ran back to the car.

The only problem was, once we got those apples home, all mixed up in the bags, we couldn’t tell one variety from the other. So it didn’t matter how carefully we’d been in selecting the rows where our favorites were growing, we eventually were just taking our chances as to which apples we were eating.

Not to worry, they were all delicious. And the experience of picking them all ourselves remains strong even now when those grandchildren have grown to adulthood.

After all, memories of happy times in autumns long ago help us ease into a season we’d rather not see approaching.



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