On Sept. 15, I walked into my yard and smelled fall.

Ah, I thought, with a glint in my eye. We are getting closer. I knew it intellectually, but I like to feel it in my bones. It is important to me to be in tune with the seasons.

The autumnal equinox arrives on the 23rd. That is my cue to begin all things fall. Labor Day doesn’t do it for me. I just roll my eyes at the premature appearance of pumpkin spice on coffee shop menus. No pumpkins on my porch, either, until the appointed day.

What’s the point of seasonal celebrations if we don’t wait for the season to arrive to have them?

Let me say at the outset that I am only a crank about seasonality. I’m not a purist. I eat blueberries and apples year-round because I care about my health.

However, when Maine fruits are in season, I celebrate them. I drive to festivals and farm stands to get exactly what I want. I bake pies and create shortcakes. My summer is marked by strawberries in June, raspberries in July and, finally, wild blueberries in August.


I enjoy having rituals to look forward to throughout the year. Right now, I am getting close to buying my local apples and making my pie. I’ll do some baking with pumpkins next month, but mostly in November.

October is the time for leaf-peeping and bulb-planting. Pot pies and stews reappear in the dinner rotation.

I try to make November all about Thanksgiving, but I feel I’m mentally drowned out by a cacophony of harsh, commercial Christmas bells. I wrote a column last year about my strict adherence to Christmas celebrations from Advent to Epiphany, so all I’ll say here is that there is no peppermint mocha at any time in my house before the winter solstice.

In November, I’m making pumpkin pies and getting creative with fresh cranberries. We should still have potatoes from the garden to cook.

In January and February, I try to focus on the Scandinavian concept of “hygge,” or creating a cozy atmosphere in the home. I enjoy sitting by the wood fire and reading. I pursue indoor hobbies like coloring and assembling jigsaw puzzles once again. It’s a good time to reorganize drawers and closets.

Citrus from warmer climes is usually at its best at that time of year. I buy supermarket bouquets once a week and enjoy arranging them in several different vases throughout the house.


I enjoy feeding the birds and, yes, squirrels throughout the winter. This year, we added a heated birdbath to our backyard setup. One day last winter, during a storm, four bluebirds alighted on it. It was like a winter miracle.

By March, I’m really itching to get outdoors more. I once again draw inspiration from the Scandinavians and their saying, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Sometimes it’s possible to do a little yard work. Mostly it just snows at inconvenient times. Absolutely nothing is in season.

Finally it’s April, when, having grown up in southern New England, I feel like I should be planting my garden. It rarely happens. There’s either too much mud or rain or maybe even more snow. However, hope is in the air, especially when the tulips and daffodils I planted in the fall bloom.

Soon enough, I have planted my gardens. May and June are very busy as I tend them, but by July I can relax a little and enjoy some of the bounty. We usually have a bumper crop of raspberries. This spring, I planted a variety of flowers to cut. I have been able to use them for many bouquets, along with herbs, including mint, lemon balm, hyssop and bee balm.

Living with the seasons provides simple pleasures, but I think it also makes me a better steward of the earth. The colder months are hard for me, because I like to be outside whenever possible. But I don’t deny winter by cranking up the heat so I can wear shorts in the house. I put on a sweater and sit by the fire. I try to live my best life within the limits set by eight hours of sunlight and 25-degree temperatures.

I’m aware of what’s happening in the natural world around me. I can see the effects of climate change when my lilacs bloom a week early. I don’t say, “Hey, it’s fall,” just because I can get a pumpkin spice latte again. I can smell the decay in my garden. The wild aster has bloomed, and the bees are loving it. The milkweed pods have burst, sending white tendrils into the wind. I see migrating hawks circling overhead while I’m out on a walk.


In late August, I saw Starbucks’ pumpkin spice coffee on sale at Target. I didn’t hesitate. I bought it, because I like a bargain. Also, I look forward to pumpkin spice time. I put the coffee in the pantry until pumpkin spice time arrives.

On Saturday, I’ll brew a pot, and happily cheer the arrival of fall.

Then I’ll go out and buy some mums.

Liz Soares welcomes email at lizzie621@icloud.com.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: