The Pleasures of Fall

October 22, 2010

Creative Commons License photo credit: Andreas Nilsen

I love changing seasons – even when the seasons I like best are ending, there are always new things to look forward to in the one coming in.  Making my list of summer pleasures helped me appreciate some of the things as they came to pass – and therefore I’m repeating the exercise for Fall.

Red and Orange Leaves

Where I live now the leaves generally turn a dull brown or mustard or yucky orange.  Every so often I get glimpses of beautiful gold and red, which remind me of the autumn display of aspens of my childhood.

Autumn Colors
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tim Solley

Cool weather

I like the change in weather from Summer’s heat to the cool mornings of Fall.  Feeling the chill in the air, needing to remember a sweater.


My seasonal decorating changes are quite minimal, but one thing I do like to do is buy a few colorful pots of mums and put them on the front steps.  The cheerful colored blooms are welcoming and a sure sign that the season has changed.  This year : yellow.

Golden Chrysanthemum flowers
Creative Commons License photo credit: vns2009

The Changing of the clothes

A few years ago I started boxing up my clothes at the end of the season, almost creating two entirely separate wardrobes, one for late Spring & summer, the other for Fall & winter.  Even clothes that could probably span year round got assigned to one side or the other (with the exception of a few very versatile travel-ready items for work).  So now the changing of the clothes is more than pulling out a few bulky sweaters and putting away the sundresses — it’s a complete change of wardrobe, and one I look forward to twice a year.  I’ve also gotten better about putting the clothes of the season I haven’t actually worn or decided I don’t like into the giveaway pile instead of the lazy solution of back into the boxes…   I’m always pleased with some of what I pull out, and I usually find that I need to buy much less than I thought.

Cashmere sweaters

The highlight of my changing of the clothes for fall and winter is the collection of cashmere sweaters that come out of careful moth-free storage.  Slowly but surely I’ve built up quite a collection, and aside from entirely too many nearly-identical black ones, there are quite a few nice choices that can’t wait to be worn in the coming weeks.

Wall O' Cashmere
Creative Commons License photo credit: smcgee

Pulling out the Boots

Two years back I bought some really nice (and classic) tall black boots that I just love.  They’re stylish and comfortable and make me feel chic (and warm).

Wearing all black is cool again

Over a decade ago I read some simplicity book that recommended selecting only one neutral color as the center of your wardrobe.  Everything would match everything, no need to look for socks for an outfit, etc.  I was sold, I went Black and never looked back.  Packing for business trips is a cinch, adding a shot of color is easy enough, and I always felt black was a good mix between some degree of size camouflage and actually looking pulled together.  It’s hard to make all black look cool in summer – usually you look like a black blob with a hot red face, but come cool temps it’s chic again.

Spaghetti squash and Cranberries

I live in Paris and finding a spaghetti squash and cranberries is no easy task.  I don’t eat them together, but both are favorites, and both are wickedly hard to find.  Sometimes I get lucky with the cranberries at the most unexpected places – and luckily they freeze well so I actually keep them in the freezer year round.  For the spaghetti squash, however, it’s impossible outside of winter squash season, and it’s quite a challenge.  The good news is once I find them usually they’re around for a few months from the same vendors, and I can keep 3 or 4 on my dining room table as a fall-themed still life and they hold up to the wait quite well.


One of the best kitchen gadgets I’ve ever found is the stick hand blender.  A few veggies and some water or stock and a little whirrrrr and presto, we have soup.  Comforting, warm, filling, yummy soup.  All girls food, too, since my husband was brought up in an era where French kids had soup every single day at least once a day (often twice) and the mere idea of soup makes him shudder.  He likes food and fun so sometimes I can get him to have a taste if I put it in a shot glass or other small-quantity, gastronomically-chic delivery device.  But a big pot of soup?  For me alone, guaranteed, so I pick what I like and don’t feel too guilty if I throw away the excess.

Fall fruit (apples, pears)

I was very influenced by Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle several years ago.  Like the kids in the book, I have no idea what a potato plant looks like.  I’m not going near her locavore movement, but I do prefer to buy local if I have a choice, and since reading it I make a real effort to eat seasonally (including giving up out-of-season far-traveled produce 90%  of the time).  Fall is the season of apples and pears, and here in France they dizzy me with the choices of different types.  One of my Fall staples is making applesauce (or apple-pear sauce, or apple-cranberry sauce).

Tomatoes And Apples And Pears
Creative Commons License photo credit: Big Grey Mare

Oven foods – roasted veggies, roast chicken

In the summer, we eat a lot of easy-to-cook foods, or use the grill.  Come Fall, I’m always happy to fire up the oven and add some heat to the house.  While I make a pretty good variety of other dishes, two of my staples are roasted chicken (I highly recommend this approach) and roasted vegetables.  Any and all vegetables are liable to end up under my broiler, but the family favorites are cauliflower (with curry powder) or Brussels sprouts.

What are your Fall Favorites?

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