Saturday, October 8, 2011

Creating a Sense of Autumn

Fall is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. Of course you can make the argument that days are shorter, and everything seems to be "losing its life" but what a sad way to look at nature! I have this memory of a long walk I took with my Aunt Di at the start of last fall. We were gushing about how much we love this time of year, and how rejuvenated it makes us feel. I prefer to think of autumn as a time for rebirth and growth, so please feel free to share in that with me.

Yes it gets chilly, but scarves can be a fun accessory and who doesn't like a good bonfire? Camping trips are amazing this time of year--and you don't wake up all sweaty in your tent like you can in summer months. Yes the days get shorter, but what if that's nature's way of suggesting you slow down a little, and take some time to relax in the evenings. Curl up with a glass of wine (or a beer, soda, lemonade, hot tea, Knob Creek, slice of cake, bowl of kale chips, slices of hard, sharp cheese, chunk of rich, dark chocolate...) and a book, sitting someplace cozy, preferably near a window so that you can better appreciate the stars and glimpse of the moon who came to visit a little earlier than you'd like. Don't enjoy reading a book? replace the book with a friend or loved one, and spend some time sharing stories. Better yet--enjoy this relaxation scenario outside somewhere, before winter comes along and sends us indoors. Put on some socks and a soft sweater, recline in your hammock if you're so lucky, and get cozy with a small blanket. Ease into fall, and embrace all that comes with it. Go to the pumpkin patch, then stuff a pumpkin with all things wonderful and let it slowly soften in the oven, make mulled cider (someone please make apple cider sangria and tell me all about it) rake leaves and then jump into a big pile of them, collect the prettiest leaves you find and make something creative with them. I'd recommend a window decoration with fishing line and a little tape. I could go on and on, but we all know the fun things to do this time of year. Ok and hayrides, apple picking, haunted houses, costume making, long hikes with unbelievable views...

Man oh man I am craving fall! But Honduras has been gentle with me, and I've been able to create my own taste of autumn. It was "chilly" here last night, and I got to wear a light zip-up sweatshirt! I have been wearing them here and there in the mornings, but not so much because I'm cold. It's been more of a comfort thing. Like my body's thinking, "Hello, it's October. Why are you in a tank top?" But last night was great weather for long-sleeves. They have these gourds at market that are very affordable, and delicious. Some of them are similar to butternut squash, and they've been fun to experiment with at dinner. Sharper knives would be cool in the kitchen, but I've learned to improvise. Anyone who has chopped up a butternut squash can hopefully understand my predicament of hop to cut and peel such a firm gourd with such an odd knife rack. The other night I decided to try steaming my calabaza halves, to soften things up and remove the peel with more ease. I was then going to cube it and sautee the chunks with garlic. Well, I ended up way over steaming them. Some distractions surfaced, and when I pulled them out and realized they'd turned to mush, I got excited to make some mash! Threw in some salt, pepper, olive oil and minced garlic...mmm, que rico! It tasted just like fall, and I lamely smiled with every bite.

In art class I decided to talk to my kids about autumn. They got all handsy making leaves and it was fun to watch their creativity flow. The way they decorated their leaves seemed to suit each of them. Some did the bare minimum, some went above and beyond, some rushed so they'd have time to goof off, some over thought the process and all of them had fun and made great leaves! We glued them to a circle of construction paper and made a fall wreath :)  I am so happy with the way it turned out. I have been trying to think of how I can keep it in good condition and bring it back with me this summer, because I'd like to use it as my autumn wreath as long as it holds up. A couple of the leaves have a sort of tie-dyed look to them, and Eduardo cracked up saying they were hippie leaves. Hippie leaves! I'm not sure I could have referenced anything hippie in second grade, but I loved the way he said it (eeepie) and we shared a peace sign afterwards. Fridays are pretty fun days at school. I spend the bulk of the morning laughing with my kids. They have a spelling test every friday, and when I call out the words I give them sentences. A few of them have started helping make silly sentences, and they always leave me laughing. I'll throw their names into my sample sentences sometimes, so now they love to throw my name in.

They were all cracking up at the decorations their markers left on their hands

Heidy-Sarahy put her "leaves" on her head and kiri-kiri-kied like a rooster :)
I've noticed some cool leaves on the ground here and there, so maybe I'll snag a couple of those, press them and let them adorn my windows as a taste of fall. I may not have all the qualities of fall that I'm used to in Virginia, but I think it's awfully sweet of Honduras to throw me a couple reminders of my favorite time of year.

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