Change of Season

by Jj Starwalker, guest blogger

Hearing the Canada geese overhead, through closed windows as they circle to settle on a nearby pond for a night’s rest, has reset in my mind the desire to recapture yesterday’s autumn ramble. It was a ramble by old farm truck as I ventured far and wide to visit friends and deliver little loaves of a family recipe cake. My flour mill, Maine Grains, which has been instrumental in bringing together and growing a larger community of local organic grain farmers and supplying us with the most wonderful whole grain flours, had been promoting “Community Bake Day.”

This event could be celebrated with group baking, classes, sharing knowledge or, as I did, just by myself as I happily mixed up a simple old family cake recipe and baked it in multiple small loaf pans with the intention of having one to eat and several to share. And share I did, with two friends who were both within driving but not walking distance.

I headed to the first home with the previous day’s monthly grocery shopping trip to the “big city” fresh in my mind. Neither day was what one might call optimal for a “leaf peeping” drive; the weather of late has been damp, even rainy, with overcast skies. But as I headed to my first grocery stop the previous day, I was struck by the abundance of brightly colored trees. I had been waiting for “peak color” in the slow fall season here in Maine, and that day, I found it.

Brightly colored trees in full leaf lined streets and roads in town and country. The riverbanks, wetlands, and manicured yards were all ablaze. Some leaves had begun to fall, confetti sprinkled on lawns and nearby hay fields. The earth felt giddy with the declaration of autumn, and I think sunshine would actually have been too much.

However, these same streets and country lanes had a much different feel the next day as I carried my shared loaves out into the world. There were still lots of colored trees, but they reached up into the skyline with bare branches that were not there the day before. And as I drove a favorite dirt road to my first stop, the brown path ahead of me was striped with broad stripes of color–yellow, then brown again, and orange and brown. The overnight rain and wind had made wide brush strokes in solid colors that this artist envied. It reminded me of rays of the setting sun, shining onto the road through clearings in the woods, but it was early afternoon; the sun was nowhere to be seen.

Yards in the little towns I visited no longer had green lawns. They had been replaced by carpets and area rugs in hues from light brown through orange and yellow even reaching into the red… that “area rug” near a maple tree that gave away her secret with a few leaves still clinging to her branches.

Overnight, the season had turned. No longer the extended early autumn of the growing season, winter had shown his hand. Oh, it will be a while until the old man moves in to stay, but Jack Frost will be coming soon to put his stamp on the end of the growing season and encourage us to bank mulch up around root veg that we plan to try over-wintering in the ground–and to remind us that garlic planting season will not last forever.

photo credit: Andrea Swank, Unsplash

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