Autumn Blessings

I have a confession to make. Autumn has always been my least favorite season. I know that all seasons have their own beauty, but I have always had some trouble appreciating Autumn. I have never been all that fond of Winter either, but in Autumn, the days get colder and darker and the coming season is Winter. Even through the cold of Winter, the days are at least getting longer and brighter, and Spring is on its way. I often start to feel a little sad as Summer winds down and by November, I am often battling deepening depression.

Yet, this year, for the first time, I experienced one of the main blessings of the Autumn season…the Harvest.

I hope that the reader will indulge me a little in boasting about my grandmother. My grandmother has always been an amazing gardener. She is going to be ninety this fall, and she loves to garden. Even when she lived in the North Side of Chicago, she managed a substantial vegetable garden in a tiny backyard.

To be honest, I never had all that much interest in gardening. I have never even been able to keep houseplants alive. It may be because now we live in the same building as my grandmother, so I see the garden every day. It may be that reading the Little House on the Prairie series in Japanese inspired me. By the way, I have just finished 大草原の小さな家, “Daisougen no chiisana ie,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and I have just started プラム川の土手で, “Puramu kawa no dote de,” “On the Banks of Plum Creek.”  I also recently read Farmer Boy in English. In any case, whatever the reason, this year I participated in the Harvest for the first time.

I learned how to make tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, apple sauce, and apple butter. I learned how to blanch and freeze fruits and vegetables for the winter. I baked several rhubarb, raspberry, and apple deserts. It was quite a busy time.

The abundance of food turned out to be quite the blessing. This October, we celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday, and relatives from Sweden came to stay with us to celebrate. My mother also came in from California and stayed with us for about a month. The abundance of food was really useful in feeding all of the extra people.

Today, I started feeling my usual Autumn depression. I felt sad as I raked the leaves and watched the sun go down before it was even 5 o’clock. Yet, then I went back inside, and I cooked taco salad using the last of the green peppers and tomatoes that my grandmother had dried over the summer. Now I am making apple sauce using the remaining apples that were stored in the refrigerator.

The garden is now gone. Our full freezer has emptied out. We still have green beans, green pepper, sliced apples and rhubarb in the freezer though, as well as a couple of containers of apple butter. We also have dried herbs and tomatoes that were carefully preserved by my grandmother.

I still feel a little sad, but I am also feeling intense gratitude to Our Mother, who provides for us every year. It was a good Autumn, I think.