Wild & Precious Life – Autumn 2021

Technically, winter doesn’t begin until the end of December, but in the Finger Lakes it’s hard to deny that there’s a certain chill to the air that is very reminiscent to winter. And so, for the last three years I’ve found myself humming Christmas songs* and joyfully walking in snowfall in November.

*It should be known that I listen to Christmas through the year, I find it comforting but also completely ignorable so it serves as a white noise of sorts when I need to focus on something (writing/work) but also comforting when I’m stressed.

I wrote about our summer activities only a few weeks ago and now I’m here writing about our autumn, two month’s worth of stories in one post.

After Bruce returned from quarantine from the wedding he attended, the weather persisted in remaining warm, but we began to do our autumn activities none the less. We picked 30 lbs of apples at a local farm and I was able to make apple cinnamon coffee bread, apple sauce, apple butter, and apple cider. We still have quite a few pounds of apples left chilling in the freezer with hopes of being made into pies for Thanksgiving and more coffee bread for Yule. These apples (mutsu variety) keep incredibly well in the fridge and I appreciate that I can have those flavors of early autumn during the last few months of the year. We also simply had a wonderful time being at the farm and picking apples. This year, Ryland is fully invested and involved in apple picking and it makes the time go by much quicker. We’ve always found we pick more apples than we ever need, but I’m glad we have a list of recipes to make from them.

Ryland and I have begun taking woods walks again, a pastime we deeply enjoy when mosquitos are not present. The temperatures finally began to drop enough that we could make short trips there and back, collecting leaves along the way which I dipped in beeswax to hang from our windows.

We have had our fair share of crafts as well, all pertaining to baking. Ryland helped make a Halloween gingerbread house, and he’s also helped me make my grandmother’s pie crust recipe, as well as the filling of our annual pumpkin pies for Halloween. We had a splurge purchase of a giant pumpkin-shaped cookie kit of which he helped create and decorate, and he also has taken on wanting to help his father make breakfast which is endlessly sweet.

We all received our flu shots and weren’t too worse for wear. We visited the local state parks and marveled at the changing leaves. We picnicked in dying sunlight on cool days, feasting on breads and cheeses and olives and meats. We drove north and went to a farm on a rainy day where we met a number of barn cats and selected our pumpkins to carve and Ryland helped take out the seeds of those very pumpkins and picked what faces we would carve into them.

In mid-October, I left Ryland for one night–the first time in his life–and went to Rochester where I ate good food and learned to knit with a childhood friend. It was wonderful to get away for a night and be fully my own person without my mind constantly split to pay attention and monitor Ryland. It was nice to be reminded that I still have the desire for travel and adventure, and that I can very well travel by myself if needed.

On the way home, I avoided the more direct route and instead drove through the western Finger Lakes, visiting Canandaigua Lake briefly before going up and down steep hillsides until I made it back to Ithaca. It was absolutely beautiful and chilly, the perfect trip, and having Ryland run to my arms upon returning home was the perfect welcoming.

Following this week, we were all in for Halloween. We took family photos in a field near home and marveled at the beautiful sunset, as well as the horses in the pasture.

For Halloween, it had rained on and off. Everything was damp and wet. But we lit our pumpkins and dressed up to go trick-or-treating all the same. We made it through a third of the streets we visited last year, but stopped at nearly as many houses as so many homes were giving out candy this year compared to last. Many stuck to leaving candy on the front porch, others wore masks, but overall it was such a joyful time and Ryland was deeply invested in the entire experience. He understood the mission and happily called out trick or treat at each house we went to. Despite all the fun, he announced he was done after about an hour and wanted to go home. Off we went through the dark towards home where we snuggled on the couch and watched Halloween cartoons prior to sending him off to bed.

Per tradition, Halloween decorations came down on November 1, but we left autumnal decor up. Our pumpkins are heading off to the woods, one by one, where we hope they will be feasted on by squirrels and deer. The weather took a turn and became substantially colder, the leaves dropped from the trees, and we saw our first snowflakes yesterday. ‘Tis the season!

Next week we will be going to our last farm distribution for the summer, the produce stand we get the best pies from has already shuttered its doors until spring, and our apple-picking-farm has closed shop until June. I hate to see these places close, as I love visiting them through the warmer months, but I suppose it is all the more clearer that our time of hygge and comfort is here.

The rest of this month still has the busy element of autumn, although it has changed in structure. We are celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary this weekend with a trip to a local museum and the Finger Lakes lantern festival. Next weekend, we hope to have Ryland take pictures with Santa in a socially distant way.

My parents will be attending Thanksgiving, so I will be making the largest Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever attempted but I’m deeply excited for the task. We focus on the harvest and meal celebration for the holiday, while also recognizing the stolen land we live on. Shortly after Thanksgiving (that weekend) we will get our Christmas tree–the first one that won’t be blocked by a gate and accessible for Ryland to touch. Our Christmas shopping is, for the main part, completed and we’ve already witnessed the slow down in shipping due to the supply chain delays. I’ll be glad when I’m in a place to actively mail out all of our gifts to their recipients.

Happy November! I’ll write again after the holidays. 🙂

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