The changing leaf color is one way to tell its autumn, but my signals tend to be a little more quantifiable. On my fall check list are a cord of firewood, a peck of apples and a whole mess of greens.
Even though it might still be too hot for a fire, the arrival of a cord of wood means to me that cooler temperatures are soon to follow. Even more than smoke from a fireplace, the smell of split oak still green from the cutting puts me in an autumn state of mind.
Next on my list of signs of fall? Picking up a peck of apples from a roadside farm stand. Just in case you don't know four pecks make up a bushel.
If you're at the farm and I'm serving greens, you can bet it's fall. Greens such as kale, collards and turnips are usually better when they mature in cool weather. A light frost will make them sweeter. Definitions of a "mess" vary with the cook, but to me it means just enough to feed everyone at the table.
All this to say that autumn has arrived at the farm. I've got a cord of firewood stacked up by the house, a peck of apples in the kitchen, and just this past weekend I cooked up a whole mess of greens.
What's your favorite sign of fall?
I'm just about as excited as a fellow can be about the Arkansas State Fair opening up next week. I grew up going to local fairs and was a big fan of the agriculture and livestock competitions. My siblings and I often entered poultry, calves, pigs and, if the timing was just right, the giant pumpkin contest. It all depended on when my grandfather harvested his corn.
My grandfather grew pumpkins in with his corn. He'd buy about 2 pounds of pumpkin seeds and add them to the corn drill when he planted corn in the spring. Every so often the corn drill would spit out a pumpkin seed in place of a corn kernel and by the end of summer pumpkin vines could be found snaking between the stalks. At harvest time we kids would run ahead of the wagon gathering the pumpkins and by fall there would be a mountain of them piled up by the barn for feeding the cows and hogs. If the harvest happened in time for the fair we'd pick out the biggest pumpkin to enter in the giant pumpkin contest. I can't recall ever winning, but prospect of winning was just as good.
Except for grabbing some fried onion rings and doing a little people watching, I spend most of my time at the fair off the midway. I love the livestock and poultry barns; the local crafts, food and canning is always worth a look; and the petting zoo is fun, especially if they have a glass paneled brooder so I can see the chicks hatching. My final stop is the sideshow area. I do love to hear a good barker.
Are you planning to go to your local fair this year? What's your favorite thing to do there?
Looks like store displays have made the change from vacation fun to back to school. Out with the flip-flops and beach towels and in with the backpacks and spiral notebooks. Yep, there are just a few more weeks for kids to enjoy the freedom of summer and it's got me to wondering just how their days will be spent. Back in the day you'd have found me hitting the streets with the neighborhood kids looking for something to get into. We were "running wild" as my grandmother used to say.
If I could turn back the birthday clock and be 10 again for a day there are a few childhood joys that I'd find missing here in the 21st century.
- Roaming freely around the neighborhood without concern. We were out the door in the morning, back for meals and out until bedtime. The words "I'm bored" always got the response, "go outside."
- Neighborhood creeks. There was a creek within walking distance of our house. It was a favorite haunt for cooling off and collecting watery things like tadpoles, crawfish and bream.
- Fireflies. Where did all the fireflies go? Except on a recent trip to New York state I haven't seen a single one this summer. We used to make lanterns by placing fireflies in Mason jars, which may be why there aren't any around anymore.
- Shopping at five and dime variety stores. I used to love to get cleaned up and head downtown with my grandparents to the Ben Franklin or Lay's. I could spend an eternity browsing through all the treasures and art supplies at these stores.
- Rear-facing station wagon seats. Claiming shotgun was never an issue when one of these was available. Oh the joy of sitting backwards looking out the big, often open, rear window. It also helped that the back of the station wagon was out of parental reach. Heaven was getting that seat all to yourself on a road trip.
What would you miss from "the good old days" if you were 10 today?