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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Days of Gold | 10-16-2016
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Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Oct 16, 2016

DianneErskineHellrigel“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

– L.M. Montgomery, “Anne of Green Gables”

Fall began this year on Thursday, Sept. 22, with the autumnal equinox, when the temperatures gradually begin to decrease.

I love autumn. It just might be the very best season of the year. The leaves on the trees turn a brilliant yellow, orange and red. The air is crisp, neither hot nor cold. It’s time to harvest the apples and make apple butter. It’s time to plant the winter vegetables and chop wood to soothe the inevitable winter chill. Autumn is a time for soups and stews and homemade breads that make my house smell sweet and inviting; for spiced apple cider and maybe a fire in the hearth and an apple pie browning in the oven.

The sweet smell of cinnamon hangs in the air as winter squash bakes. Like my mother used to do, I’m preparing for winter by drying fruit and vegetables from the garden, making tomato sauce and pesto to freeze. I’m dehydrating marinated beef sticks, apples and persimmons from the garden for winter hiking trips.

14642993_10211383311077278_408007143_nThe brisk winds are wildly blowing a stream of orange leaves across the patio, and the rich gold leaves cover the pool like a brilliant blanket. The cool air refreshes the soul while the mild caress of the sun warms me.

There is something nostalgic about autumn. It brings back memories of my mother repeating all of these activities every fall: fresh bread for dinner with newly harvested berries turned into jam. Apple pie, harvest vegetables from the garden and a splash of every color on the plate make a brilliant display.

Recipes handed down by generations are recreated in the kitchen. Apricot kolache, green jeans, blueberry buckle, pear tarts, borsht, ginger carrots and savory stews are some of the best. Pumpkins ripen and are stored in the cellar. The thinnest ones are turned into Jack-o-lanterns, and the varieties with thicker meat are baked and turned into pie filling for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Small quantities are saved to make pumpkin pancakes that are rolled up with a sweet cream cheese and apple filling.

14724243_10211383311397286_1027716730_oAutumn has been known as “fall,” “aurora season,” “the hectic beauty of death” and “harvest.” It begins when the center of the sun crosses Earth’s equator. Like clockwork, when this happens, birds begin to migrate, days become shorter, nights become longer, women become more attractive (due to an increase in testosterone in males at this time of year) and animals and plants respond to the light changes.

Best of all, fall changes can be found in my kitchen. My mother called it the autumnal kitchen of love.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

14646739_10211383311437287_483758452_o14725339_10211383311477288_570857700_o 14689907_10211383311597291_898831638_o

 

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