Autumn, or Fall, came to Michigan last week. I know, I know, the calendar says it’s still summer, but here in my part of the Midwest, it’s Fall already. It arrived the morning it was a chilly 45°. Of course, the temp zoomed up to 85 that afternoon so summer wasn’t gone. That’s how Autumn begins. A night of cool temps followed by a pleasantly warm, or even hot, day. Sure makes dressing kids for school a challenge, as Hubs and I found out while taking care of the grandkiddies. The one who’d been used to wearing sandals and shorts couldn’t understand why he had to wear long pants, socks and a sweatshirt.
I’ve always loved this time of year—and not just because my birthday is in the Fall. I love it when we can finally turn off the air conditioning. And this has been such an unusually hot summer that the AC has been on almost constantly. I’m not complaining, mind you. I so appreciate climate control in my car and house. But throwing open the windows and letting fresh air blow through a previously closed-up house makes me appreciate this season even more. Sleeping with the windows open, huddling under the covers toward morning, digging out my warm robe then wearing shorts in the afternoon. Ah, yes. Fall is here.
The trees are beginning to signal the change in season. It’s always startling to see that lone tree with red leaves in the midst of green. In another month or so, we’ll be awash in a sea of color—yellows, oranges, reds, crimsons. Our newspapers will be filled with “color” reports and scenic routes. People will jump in the car for a leisurely drive along back roads just to see the breath-taking colors. If we’re lucky. Weather conditions have to be just right and we’ve had weird weather this year.
More than the wild variance of temperatures and deciduous trees turning, a sure sign that Autumn has arrived is the smell. Smoke from fireplaces that neighbors light to take off the chill. That pungent odor as fallen leaves break apart. Burning leaves. Now there’s a smell that has almost disappeared. With city ordinances banning leaf and brush burning, a drive in the country is the only way to experience that smell. I’m sure those with asthma or other respiratory ailments are most appreciative of the bans, though. I’m also certain those who live near the wild fires that have burned out of control this summer find that smell abhorrent. But for many of us, those smells remind us of the Autumns of our youth.
As glorious as the Fall colors are soon we’ll be raking those beautiful leaves to the curb or, as in our town, putting them in yard waste bags for pick up. Since we removed our two big trees because of insect damage, raking should be minimal, right? Alas, we are the recipients of our neighbors’ generosity as their maples and ashes keep our yard well-supplied, our rake and leaf blower active. When I think about fallen leaves, sound comes to mind first. The flutter as they fall, that crunch when walked on.
Harvest time is here. The three tomato plants in Hubs’ garden have been producing like crazy and my kitchen smells like an Italian restaurant as I cook down those tomatoes into sauce for spaghetti and Grandma’s mosticiolli. My freezer already has enough sauce for several meals. Soon, apples will be ready for picking then the cinnamon-y smells of pies and applesauce will fill kitchens. Pumpkins will be ripe and more pies. More delicious smells.
While most of my story Switched takes place aboard a starship, a good part is on a Michigan farm in the Fall. The smells, the sounds, the colors of Autumn are so familiar the descriptive passages were easy to write.
I'm sure I sound like a “Pure Michigan” commercial when I say my home state is beautiful year round—especially in the Fall.
What do you think about this season?
Don't forget to come back on Thursday to meet another Michigan author, Jennifer Lowery.