A Season of Splendor


Anne Michael

Seasoned Lightly is on hiatus until after the first of the year when Anne Michael, who is taking a break, will return to BiblioBuffet. In the meantime, we invite you to revisit some of her early pieces.

My friend, Susan, has been helping her daughter, Megan, prepare for her wedding next month and has committed to preparing a breakfast feast at her home the morning after the wedding festivities. Susan is, at this point, probably regretting having asked some of her friends (including yours truly) for menu suggestions. E-mail advice abounds. I am looking forward to hearing what she ultimately decides to serve. I’ve told her not to be surprised if I show up on her doorstep that day looking for handouts; it all sounds that good! By October, in North Carolina, the trees should be gorgeous. Naturally, the theme for the breakfast is going to be an autumn one, which sounds perfect to me.

Fall has always been one of my favorite times of the year. With all the talk of turning leaves, crisp apples, pumpkin pies and cozy fires, I just had to change the background picture on my laptop to a canopy of trees, the branches resplendent in golden yellows, brilliant orange and touches of crimson. The picture is so vivid, it can summon the fragrances of this time of year. I would dearly love to spend my Saturday picking apples and baking pies. 

Even as a child, I loved autumn. While on the playground during recess or after lunch, my friends and I would scoop together big piles of fragrant leaves and make corrals, pretending we were horses. (Westerns were big when I was a child.) We would make huge piles and jump in them, thrilling as the leaves shot out from under our bodies. Some of the appeal was the consideration that we were playing in Mother Nature’s garbage which we thought was pretty terrific. (Our teacher thought she would discourage us from such play by telling us that tale. It obviously didn’t work.) 

But it was the smells of the season that most intrigued me. Wood, wool, chimney smoke, dying leaves, the tangy promise of colder days in the air and the mellow, succulent and alluring smells of Indian Summer, along with the fragrance of new shoes, yellow-lined school paper, crab apples and windows newly washed with vinegar and newspaper can instantly transport me back in time.

While I no longer play in fallen leaves and am careful not to kick a heap of them as I walk for fear of disturbing a sleeping snake these days, I still love this season that precedes winter. Since seasons other than summer are so short in Florida, I watch my world closely to see the changes, no matter how small, and to savor them. One of the harbingers of the holiday season is a huge pumpkin festival put on by a local farmer after his crops are in. It’s an event that my mother-in-law, Phyllis, and I enjoy together each year. We feast on roast corn, elephant ears, fried potatoes and fresh lemonade while wandering amid the craft stalls.

Even with that heightened sensitivity to nature’s changes, what invariably alerts me first to the changing season are the catalogs that arrive daily in the mailbox. I find myself feeling sorry for the postman (but gleeful for myself) having to deliver masses of them in our postal box as the retailers try to entice me to do my holiday shopping early. Their covers are colored in warm tones, the hues of rich wine, expensive jewels and deep wood alluding to the time of year. Phyllis gets a few women’s magazines delivered to the house. The covers on these are nothing short of funny, simultaneously adorned with luscious pies, bowls of steaming stews, fresh breads, muffins and cookies contrasting sharply with the headline that (invariably) screams “Lose 10 lbs. by Halloween!”—or Thanksgiving or Christmas. 

Even better is the fact that it's an excellent time of the year for reading a good book after supper with a nice cup of tea, or for writing letters to faraway friends, or maybe even dragging the cookbook out to come up with easy but filling feasts for the Sunday football games.

Ooh, that reminds me; I promised Susan I’d send her my recipe for pumpkin muffins. I think I’ll have to practice that one to make sure they still taste as good as I remember. No matter where you live, fall is an absolutely delicious time of year. Here’s wishing you all the joy of this splendid season.

At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs, one cat and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” Contact Anne.



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