Thursday, September 17, 2015

Celebrating September

Hi, it’s Helen DePrima! September always means harvest and country fairs to me. Although my “farm” now consists of maybe a quarter acre of vegetables, I take as much pleasure in digging potatoes for winter storage and shocking corn stalks as I did growing up on my grandfather’s farm in Kentucky. My grandfather and uncles cultivated with horses and mules ; we never owned a tractor. At an early age, I learned to drive our work team Maude and Dobbin while the men loaded bushels of
potatoes on the heavy sled in the fall. Another farmer leased our back acreage to grow corn; after the big harvester stripped the fields, my cousins and I would glean the ears the machine had left, loading them into the trunk of my uncle’s ’37 Chevy. My grandfather paid us a nickel apiece for ears shelled for winter horse feed. Often we worked until dusk, blowing on our fingers to warm them from digging in the chilled soil for each ear and then gathering in my grandmother’s kitchen for hot chocolate and gingerbread.
 * * *
Nowadays, I get my draft-horse fix at the local agricultural fair in late September. A trip to the Deerfield Fair begins with a stop at our favorite French-fry stand which uses only Prince Edward Island spuds, far and away the best for fries. Next stop: real lemonade fresh-squeezed while we watch or hot cider, depending on the weather – some years fair time calls for caps and mittens, other times for sunscreen.
We make quick tour through the needlework exhibition to admire quilts and embroidery and then on to the horse-pulling arena to watch teams of draft horses and oxen move a steel sled loaded with 500-lb. cement blocks. Many of the teams have active careers in farming and/or logging between competitions. The day always ends with a stop for apple crisp or fried dough on the way back to my truck.
***
Liz Flaherty here. There is a sweetness to September. Not just the smells (oh, yum, apples) or the tastes (oh, yum, spiced pumpkin anything) or the sounds (oh, yum, corn popping), but just how it feels.  By the way, no, I don’t have a small fixation on food—I have a great big one.
September gives me a chance to capitalize on that fixation. It is the season of Church Suppers in the Midwest. Our church has a soup supper, the one up the road has a harvest supper, and chicken-and-noodle dinners abound. No one ever keeps track of how much you eat, there is always pie, and you get to see friends and neighbors you haven’t seen since...well, last September.
It’s also football time. Recent events have lessened my love for the NFL, but there’s little that I find more entertaining than elementary, middle, and high school football—you know, when they still play for the love of the game and look so cute in their uniforms. There is always a well-stocked concession stand involved, too. Popcorn, nachos.
Oh. Food again. I thought at first that was the sweetness I was talking about, but in reality it’s the “we gather together” socialness of church suppers and school athletes that give me particular joy in the month. Well, that and the pie.  

27 comments:

  1. Fall is my favorite season. Not only because of the events and activities (and the food, Liz); I also love the fall colors.

    If only fall could be followed immediately by spring, and we could bypass all the days with freezing temperatures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I'm with you, Kate! I love the colors, too.

      Delete
    2. I've always loved fall best, the transition from summer heat to brisk days and crisp nights. Now in New Hampshire, autumn also means gorgeous fall colors.

      Delete
    3. Me too Kate. I love fall for the smell of dried leaves but hate the cold of winter.

      Delete
  2. I love going back in time to grandparents' days. I remember when the city told my grandmother she had (yes, had) to add a bathroom to her house because she was now in the city (it had grown around her) and an outhouse wouldn't do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That happened to my grandparents, too, in Elkhart, Indiana, but I think my granddad continued to use the outhouse if he was working outside. :-)

      Delete
    2. My grandparents' home in Kentucky had indoor plumbing, but we had an outhouse behind the barn so we didn't have to run all the way to the house when we were busy.

      Delete
  3. You make me miss the 4H fair I used to participate in. Lovely blog. Excellent pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our 4-H fair gets earlier and earlier--it's in June now! I'd enjoy one of those September fairs Helen talked about.

      Delete
  4. Helen and Liz, I love fall and you ladies nostalgia so meshes with mine. And I'm with Kate about skipping winter even though here in AZ our freezing temps are few. I just don't like being cold. I love the fall colors and fall cooking. Thanks for the blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Roz. I'm not to the point where I actually mind winter, though if you ask me in February, I talk a different story!

      Delete
  5. Thanks for sparking so many fall memories, Liz and Helen. One of my favorite things to do as a child, was to rake a huge pile of leaves and jump into it and roll around. Well, the raking part wasn't so fun, but the rest was. :) I too wish we could go from fall back to spring, but cooking in the crock pot, on a cold January day is nice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is, Jill! We occasionally still burn leaves, and I love the smell!

      Delete
  6. Oh, yes. County fairs and fall flavors. And I love the horses. That's a wonderful picture, Helen. Hurray for September.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, yes. County fairs and fall flavors. And I love the horses. That's a wonderful picture, Helen. Hurray for September.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love old pictures and family traditions. And Liz, deflategate sucked, but it's a new year and for some reason Anna Stewart's and my 49ers have chosen bizarre uniforms. So entertaining!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I want back in the NFL, is to be entertained instead of disappointed.

      Delete
  9. Helen and Liz - what rich memories beautifully shared! You've inspired me to haul up my fall decorations from the basement. I've been holding on to summer, but time and tide wait for no man. (My mom said that all that time. Wonder who she was quoting.) It's beautiful here today - big clouds, birds coming in from over the ocean so something' s coming, I guess. Thanks for bringing fall to my house, Ladies. I feel better about letting summer go now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just looked up the quote i it's Chauser

      Delete
    2. Should have not the spelling while I was at it - Chaucer!

      Delete
    3. LOL. It's hard to let summer go, but autumn has so many redeeming features.

      Delete
  10. I'm so ready for fall after reading your wonderful posts! Fall here means apple picking, wagon rides into pumpkin patches, making the first apple crisp of the season, decorating with hay bales, corn stalks and mums. It's still 80 degree weather here but I'm excited for air so crisp I could bite it. Happy fall, y'all ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just came up from a hotel pool and the sun (!), but I love everything you mentioned, Karen!

      Delete
  11. It's definitely fall in Washington DC, school is in session, we just picked apples and pumpkins are showing up everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love September, now and when I was a kid. After what could be better than the fair, school starting and new clothes? And cooler air. Great post.

    ReplyDelete