Monday, November 15, 2010

Forever Fall

I absolutely love this time of year.  Fall is my favorite season and it begins for me at the end of August.  The Back to School displays are out in the stores, all of the supermarkets have their Halloween candy out, and I know that in just a month or so I will be pulling out the long sleeve shirts and long johns. 

One of my favorite things about fall is walking into any given supermarket and seeing the display of apple cider and the smell of cinnamon scented pine cones.  That smell always brings a smile to my face and thoughts of beautiful colored trees and carving pumpkins fills my mind.  

A trip to the Apple Orchard is always on our list of things to do in late September.  Since I was a little girl we have gone to a place in Warwick, New York called Pennings Orchard.  There is nothing better than walking through the rows of apple trees and crunching down on a freshly picked, super sweet Gala Apple.  As we walk around the kids notice all kinds of little nature gems in and among the trees.  This birds nest was a cool find this year. 

Leaves crunching under my feet has got to be one of my favorite sounds at this time of year along with the sounds of the geese that are beginning to head South for the winter. 

 When we rake the leaves in our yard we always pick up the little branches and sticks that have fallen out of the trees and burn them in our Chimenea while we rake.  That smell of wood smoke while we work in the yard just brings me right back to my childhood when we would sit by the fireplace with my dad who would play the guitar with all of us happily singing "Old Dan Tucker".

Every Halloween I make a big pot of chili.  After Trick or Treating we come in the house with full bags of candy, rosy cheeks and rumbling bellies just dying for a bowl of that warm goodness.  Here is the recipe I use.

                         Texas Style Chili

1-1/2 pounds of boneless stew beef (cut in 1/2 inch cubes)
1-1/2 pounds of ground beef
1-1/2 cups of chopped onion
1 cup of chopped bell pepper
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 (28 oz.) cans of whole tomatoes undrained and broken up
2 cups of water
1 (6 oz.) can of tomato paste
8 beef flavored bouillon cubes
                            2 Tablespoons chili powder
                            1 Tablespoon ground cumin
                            2 teaspoons oregano leaves
                            2 teaspoons sugar

 In a large kettle or Dutch oven, brown the beef cubes and ground beef.  Drain off the fat.  Add onions, pepper and garlic; cook and stir until tender.  Add remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 1-1/2 hours or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally.  Serve with corn chips and shredded cheddar cheese.  Makes about 4 Quarts.

Another great thing about the fall season is carving pumpkins for Halloween.  We take a trip out to Pennsylvania every year to go and get them.  On this annual trip we make a stop at Country Junction which claims to be "Americas Largest General Store".  This fantastic place has a full out Pumpkin Festival every fall complete with a haunted hayride, midway rides, and a Halloween store.  They always have The Wizard of Oz playing on a big movie screen in the dining room and you could wander around the store for over an hour looking in all the nooks and crannies for treasures.  After visiting Country Junction we usually head over to the Pocono Cheesecake Factory.  Not the popular chain restaurant, but a little place in Swiftwater, PA where you can go to get home made Pumpkin cheesecake. This delicious cheesecake weighs about 80 pounds! (just kidding...kinda) and is the creamiest, dreamiest cheesecake you'll ever taste.  Before we get back on route 80 to head home we make one last stop at Callie's Pretzel Factory.  This little out of the way place boasts tons of different kinds of pretzels, but our family favorite are the everything pretzels. YUMMY!

This past February I started a new job.  It was my first leap back into the workforce since my oldest son was born almost 13 years ago.  I work for our towns Dial a Ride program where we transport Senior Citizens and disabled adults to doctors appointments and other places that they would not be able to get to without this service.  In this job I am driving most of the day and I must say that my favorite season to drive so far has been the fall.  A couple weeks ago I took my camera to work with me and here are a couple of the shots that I got.

No fall season would be complete without my all time favorite singer James Taylor.  any song by him reminds me of fall for some reason, but he put out a CD back in 2002 called October Road, and it has an amazing song on it called "September Grass".  Here are the lyrics to this wonderful song:

Well, the sun's not so hot in the sky today
And you know I can see summertime slipping on away
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red
But the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed
So I'll be king and you'll be queen
Our kingdom's gonna be this little patch of green
Won't you lie down here right now
In this September grass
Won't you lie down with me now
September grass

Yeah, I kissed the girl at a football game
I can still smell the sweat and the grass stains
We walked home together. I was never the same.

But that was a long time ago
And where is she now? I don't know

Won't you lie down here right now
In this September grass
Won't you lie down with me now
September grass

Oh, September grass is the sweetest kind
It goes down easy like apple wine
Hope you don't mind if I pour you some
Made that much sweeter by the winter to come 
lyrics found on