|Autumn has always been my favourite time of the year. I grew up in Germany in a beautiful little town called Oberstein (click the link for some pictures of, and info about, Oberstein). It's built up onto several hills, lots of picturesque little houses, some hanging onto the rocks at almost dangerous-looking angles. And lots of trees, beautiful fall foliage everywhere, especially when looking over the valleys from the top of one of those hills or sitting atop one of the old rock walls, 900 feet above the Nahe River, the last remnants of a castle that goes back to at least 1197. That's where a lot of my dreaming started, dreams of living in other times, other places...
School holiday schedules were different than what American children are used to, we had long been back in school by the beginning of September, but there were always another couple of weeks of holidays to look forward to, toward the end of September, only half-jokingly called "Potato Holidays," a reminder of the old times when farm children all over the country were needed to help with the potato harvest and didn't have time to attend school. Some lucky city-kids were able to spend time with relatives on the farm, where at the end of a long harvest day, a fire would be built at the edge of the field and new potatoes thrown into the embers. To this day I can think of no greater delicacy than those potatoes, the outside all charred and black, but the inside hot and white and delicately mushy... I can just about smell and taste 'em now. Right then and there, we would not have traded them for all the Ambrosia of the Gods!
Maybe that's the thing I remember best... the smells of Autumn. Gran would take
me to her seamstress for a new dress or a skirt or two for winter (I still go all
mushy inside at the smell of new fabric). The cosy crackle and the smell of
fire in the wood- and coal-burning stoves that were fired up every morning
to get the house nice and cosy (I know it must have been a pain for Mom
and Gran, but we didn't get central heating until I was almost 19). To this
day I love to wake up and find there's been a good frost outside. Warm
weather just doesn't do it for me.
And apples, lots and lots of apples... the heavenly smell of apples baking
on the back of the kitchen stove. But the best part of all would be my
birthday party, on 28 October. Mom and Gran would be busy baking cakes
for my party, with Dad artistically decorating a "Torte" with Gran's special butter-creme frosting (vanilla AND chocolate, if you please :), my best girlfriend presenting me with loads and loads of our favourite chocolates... her birthday is just 4 days before mine and her parties were wonder-ful, too. So even if we didn't have "Halloween" with the accompanying Trick or Treating back then in Germany, we'd still be up to our ears in chocolate for days on end!
Instead of Halloween, the First of November is our Memorial Day, where folks go to the cemetary and lay down wreaths and light candles at the graves of our departed loved ones; albeit christianised, still very much in keeping with the original intent of remembering, appeasing, and perhaps even communicating with the spirits of those who have gone before us.
To a kid, of course, what the whole thing really meant was that the Yuletide was near, soon the Advent wreathes would come out and each of the four Sundays before the actual event (Christmas Eve), another candle on the wreath would be lit (four in all). This lighting of the Advent candles was usually a time for family to gather, crack nuts or munch on apples and tell stories.
The more I think about this, the more memories come flooding back ... WOW ... I really can't think of a better time of year than Autumn!
"Autumn Memories" copyright Val Grant
Background scanned from an old calendar page
Fae Automne adopted from the Enchanted Hollow
Guardian Fairy adopted from:
|A Gift For You|