O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall…
— Robert Frost, “October”
Autumn is a magical season and, by far, my favorite. As late summer comes to a close, the crickets have a rhythmic chirp and the fat bumblebees buzz around my patch of purple asters as they relish the nectar of each little flower. Those bumbles will indulge to the point of just falling asleep with their heads buried deep in the flowers and I reach out with one finger to gently pet their fluffy, fat stripes.
Then that glorious morning comes when the rising sun glints off of the first frost that covers the ground, ushering in the season of flannel shirts and boots, hot cocoa, and apples. The sky seems deeper blue and as you breathe in, the air has a certain snap to it. Stepping out of the door, the grass crunches a bit and the leaves in the trees glisten with their white, frosty outlines.
Of all seasons, I think that autumn is the most sensory-tantalizing time of the year. Brilliant hues of orange, yellow and red fill the landscape, then slowly give way to every imaginable shade of brown. Leaves swirl around us in the air like bright glitter, then drift to the ground at our feet. Butterflies and beetles dressed in their best colors alight on late-blooming flowers and the birds sing a gathering song. The cornstalks grow brittle, the wheat turns golden. It is time to cultivate and bring in what we have nurtured for months; the joy and fruits of our good work await!
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
The olfactory delights of Autumn are what take us back to past walks through the woods, fields, or neighborhood. Nothing speaks of this season like the fragrance of cinnamon and the tang of the seasonal apples. Isn’t it just like our generous Creator God to lavish us with so many different kinds of apples (Black Amish, Empire, Twig, Pink Lady, Stayman, and of course, the St. Edmund’s Pippin!), not to mention the rest of the autumn produce, like concord grapes, peaches, pears, and pumpkins? The farmer’s markets are bursting with wooden baskets and tables laden with the plants and produce, markers of the labors of our good cultivators who bring the harvest in to nurture and delight us.
This old family recipe is our favorite to prepare at the first sign of the season. Delicious when made with apples alone (and feel free to include more than one type as well as those apples that have turned a bit soft), but if I have a spare ripened pear or peach, I will slice the fruit thin and combine with the apple mixture. I pray that this season of gathering in will be full of the magic of the season.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
— Robert Frost
Harvest Apple Crisp
What you need for the crust:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
Combine these ingredients with a large fork or pastry blender.
Pat half of the mixture into a buttered 9 x 9 pan.
3 cups apples, diced small. (I don’t peel my apples, but you may.)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Cover the bottom crust with apple mixture. If you have a spare peach or pear that is ripe, you can slice one and place it over the apples for a fruit crisp. Then layer the rest of the crust mixture over the fruit. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes, until deep golden brown. Extra yummy when served warm with a scoop of ice cream.
The featured image is courtesy of Annie Nardone and use with her permission for Cultivating.
 A smile and a nod to one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, who captures the turn of the seasons and the rhythm of nature so eloquently. The lovely quotes are gathered from Frost’s poem “October,” which can be found in its entirety at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53084/october-56d23212a5b72 .
Annie Nardone is a flannel-clad, cowboy boot-shod adventurer who seldom travels with a map because joy and surprise are discovered in the journey! Her sincere passion is the reintegration of the arts and humanities with theology and the Christian imagination. She holds a Masters Degree in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Baptist University and writes for Literary Life and the quarterly magazine, An Unexpected Journal. Annie resides in Virginia with her Middle Earth/Narnia/Hogwarts-loving family, and an assemblage of sphynx cats and feline foundlings who read with her daily. In a poll taken among friends, six things that characterize her include: books, C.S. Lewis, spontaneous adventure, Shakespeare, caffeine, and cats.