By Becky Nelson
Here it is — the fifth day of autumn already. There is some debate about whether to call the season “fall” or “autumn” that has hit the airwaves and the e-waves recently, which amuses me. We always called the season fall in our house. I imagine it derives from the falling of the leaves from the trees. Autumn, the older of the two words and the one considered as the more formal name for the season, is derived from the autumnal equinox, in which the sun is directly over the equator and day and night are of equal length. It is only a couple of seconds, and then the duration of daylight each day starts to shorten into the winter season. Maybe autumn is only two seconds long so we are right in calling the extended season fall.
Whatever the name, we live in a magnificent and stunning area where the annual painting of the leaves across our landscape is at its absolute best. This year has not disappointed so far. The view out my front window as the leaves turn and the corn dries with a bit of mist over the mountain beyond just soothes my soul.
We have completed most of the summertime chores around here. The outdoor summer crops were zapped in the four nights of frost and freeze last week, so picking has slowed. We are about three quarters of the way through the long task of pruning out the dead raspberry canes. We are cutting cornstalks for decoration and are set to brush hog the rest of the corn and plant a cover crop of winter rye to protect the soil. We hope to get the seed on the ground this weekend and that the coming showers will lend to germination. The last of the hay was made this week, taking advantage of the dry weather.
We have turned our growing hand to the hoophouses with squash, zucchini, beans and cucumbers growing and some greens set to be planted as we hope for a late season crop of each. The tomatoes in the hoophouses are still cranking along strong, though the last is in sight as daylight hours shorten and days become cooler. We have picked most of the apples from the orchard and are gearing up to start cider production soon. Pumpkins are harvested and on display and we are now planning for the Christmas season which will be here in the not too distant future.
The natural world is also wrapping up summer and transitioning into their winter mode. The bears are active, eating everything available in their range to fatten themselves for a winter snooze. The fall asters are in full blue-purple bloom. Mice and other rodents are seeking shelter inside homes and shelters to get out of the cold. Our cat has had a field day with the new visitors. Deer are now browsing what low feed is still available and eating the bounty of acorns and other wild nuts dropped to the ground. The hummingbirds have now abandoned the feeders and headed off for warmer homes south of us. We have noticed several flocks or gaggles of geese honking and winging their way to warmer spots.
One of the most fascinating migratory birds we have noticed around are flickers. Related to woodpeckers, their favorite meal is ants, and we have seen them all over the farm gathering their meals as they gain energy for a migratory trek. I am wondering how busy the roadways will be around here this year as folks leaf peep. The pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our daily lives and vacation habits, so I am wondering if as many folks will travel our highways and byways to enjoy the fall show.
Whether or not the travelers come, we need to enjoy the spectacle ourselves. Watching the sun rise over the hills and illuminate the colors is a blessing that many will never experience, and we need to turn our fears and distresses away and enjoy the blessings and beauty we are afforded. We live in a magnificent place in a magnificent nation, and we need to remember and celebrate that fact instead of wallowing in the strife, negativity and angst that seems to be permeating our daily lives.
Live. Relax. Enjoy. Celebrate fall (or autumn), whichever you prefer.
Becky Nelson is co-owner of Beaver Pond Farm in Newport, New Hampshire. You can contact her through the farm page on Facebook and Instagram, visit the retail store or email her at email@example.com.