Autumn photo feature…

Autumn used to be something that I didn’t enjoy. I lost the joy of the change of seasons to my hatred of winter. My feelings about the on-coming cold overshadowed the enjoyment of the beautiful things that fall brings. Thankfully I now have an ever growing number of activities that I enjoy in the winter, and I am able to appreciate and fully enjoy the gradual change of summer into winter for all that it can hold. It’s important, when going through life, to take time to reflect and rejoice, especially as you gear up for a new season and chapter of life. This year I decided to bring you all along for the ride. I hope you enjoy this journey with me, and find some joy for yourself on the way.

First up is the Cumberland County Fair!! One of my favorite things about the fair has always been walking through the barns, marveling at the amazing creatures there. I get lost imagining myself in this other lifestyle where I wake up at 5:00 to milk cows and feed chickens, and become so close to the animals that they look for me to visit them, and I can tell what they’re thinking. My dad spent much of his growing up on a farm, so this part of the fair always makes me feel closer to him.

If animals aren’t your style, of course, there are always countless other things to inspire and amaze, right?! That quilt was such a beautiful mix of creativity, precision and crafting prowess. I think half of the reason that people go to the fair is to indulge in “fair food”, the sugary, greasy, comfort food that you (should) only have once a year. Our favorites are sundaes literally drowning in fresh Maine syrup, and cinnamon and sugar smothered fry bread. Like I said, once a year stuff!

Of course, here in the American North East we are kind of famous for our autumn colors, and getting out and seeing it all is one thing that I will never just leave to the tourists. One of my favorite ways to fully appreciate the majesty of “fall foliage” is to hike. When hiking you are in it, surrounded by it, slogging through it and ultimately working yourself up on to a perch to see even more of the splendor.

For some reason the change of seasons always makes me seek out and explore every candy store within 50 miles of me. Maybe it’s all the seasonal goodies, or maybe it’s just that my body is trying to bulk up for whatever the next season will throw at me, but either way, I see it as a reason to celebrate and enjoy a few special treats. Between pumpkin flavored everything and a million kinds of fudge, it’s hard to keep the snacking to a healthy level! Also, no joke, those Oreo infused Rice Krispie treat things are probably about 1 chemical away from antifreeze soaked packing peanuts, but also so unbelievably delicious that I have to run away when I see them.

Oh my goodness. I live in a pretty great place if you’re looking for fall wonders, which kind of crescendos at the apple orchard. This year we ventured to Thompsons’ Orchard and had a wonderful time exploring, figuring out what we were picking, sampling along the way, and yes, perfecting my tractor-sweater-shades pose.

Let me round out this little fall summary by drawing your attention to one of the most splendid candy shops I have ever experienced. It’s not just the aesthetic either! Their chocolates are divine. Honestly, some of the best I have ever had. If you find yourself in the little village of Hallowell, do yourself a favor and wander toward the waterfront and stop in at Scrummy Afters. No, I don’t know what the name is about, but it won’t matter to you either when you visit this place. Friendly people, a huge selection, the greatest candy picking policy I have ever encountered (they give you a plastic glove and you can just dive in!!), and incredible flavor. Just go. Please. If you are from away and you ever visit me, you can guarantee that if you have any part of your soul that will appreciate this place, I will 100% take you there.

We rounded out our celebration of the beginning of autumn with Halloween festivities, at my job and at home. There were games and prizes, a “graveyard cake” and chili cook-off, we played dress up at a photo booth, and handed out candy. While I have always found the traditions, history and general terror of Halloween incredibly dark and off putting, this year I tried something new and embraced the lighter side of the holiday. We grabbed a bucket of tricks and treats and met our neighbors for the first time ever. In Maine, Halloween fell the day after a record breaking wind storm when something like 70% of the state was without power. I met more people at the grocery store, the gas station, and in the neighborhood during the few days that we were all in the dark than in the first 3 years that we have lived here. There were hundreds of kids out and about, with headlamps, knocking on every door because there were no lights to tell who was home and who wasn’t. I met a very creative secret agent, the most adorable robot complete with LED buttons, a very mature New Yorker reading lumberjack, Bruno Mars playing Uptown Funk as he went, and far more “cats” than I thought possible. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a celebration in which adorable and funny children dress up as the greatest thing they can imagine and show it off to you while you share candy with them?! Our bucket was well loved as there were assorted cocoas, chocolates, organic gummy pumpkins and truffles. I’m hoping there were a few excited parents who scored truffles in their kids’ haul. I loved the reactions of the kids who pulled a “trick” out of the candy bucket and were a bit confused as to how they ended up with cat food. Yes, I’m that lady…

Don’t write off a season, a holiday, a time of year or even a day because of what it means, has meant in the past or what will be coming after it. This fall I learned about embracing every opportunity to enjoy myself with others and in my community. I’m looking forward to seeing what winter has in store!!