Here it is! Canadian Fall! Canadian Autumn! Unforgettable colours and nostalgic memories, a special time of the year for me, because this is the season my daughter was born and married, two magical moments in my mind.
This year is a wonderful one in the Glorious Colours Department, with forests, gardens and roadsides displaying brilliant reds, oranges and golds, right alongside some still deep-green conifers for contrast. For those of you not from Canada who tend to think of us in terms of reds (red-coated Mounties) and black and white (snow and tree trunks in winter) let me assure you, we have a LOT of colour here, all year ’round, from top to bottom, from ocean-to-ocean-to-ocean!
Where in the world could you find such a brilliant array of autumn colours but in our own unique Ontario favourite-of-mine-place, Algonquin Park (the oldest provincial park in Canada – about 1/4 the size of Belgium, with over 2,400 lakes, 1,200 kilometres of streams and rivers located within it), where the colours just blast themselves into your mind! Each time I view their glory, I feel sad for people way down south or in maple-tree-bereft countries who have never have the opportunity to soak in this unique, mind-boggling beauty. Because of the Park’s higher elevation and shorter growing season, her colours occur earlier than most surrounding areas. Detailed record keeping over 35 years (yes, that is done), the earliest autumn leaf colour peak recorded was September 15, 1982, the latest October 9, 1996, with the average peak of the Sugar Maple canopy being September 27th.
No wonder so many of our Canadian artists and photographers (and others from around the world) seek out Algonquin Park year-around because of its unique offerings of beauty and wilderness.
There are 34 native tree species found there (coniferous and deciduous) varieties of maples, white and red pine, hemlock, tamarack, balsam, cedar, birch, beech, ironwood, ash, basswood, with attractive fruit and berries in abundance on trees and shrubs.
These trees provide a cornucopia of colour, from yellow to gold to orange, orange-red, red, scarlet, and year-round deep greens for contrast. (A wonderful place to canoe, by the way…. or to camp out…. or to bird watch…. or to fish… or watch whatever from observations sites….)
In Canada’s autumn shrubs, we enjoy pinks, whites, cherry reds, golds, yellows, oranges, purples, blues, scarlets in foliage and berries. On the list are Arrowwood, Blueberry,
Burning Bush, Butterfly Bush, Cotoneaster,
Linden Viburnum, Firethorn berries,
Holly, PeeGee Hydrangea, Pink Snowberry, Redleaf Rose, Serviceberry, Smoketree, Snowberry,
Spindle tree (euonymus),
Sugar Tyme Crabapples, Sumac,
Tiger Eyes, Wayfaring Tree, Winterberry, Witch Hazel. Boston Ivy and Virginia Creeper (Engelmann’s Ivy) are highly colourful in fall, and Bittersweet Vine has colourful seed coverings. Stunning varieties, shades, shapes and sizes!
Not only are trees and shrubs and bushes lavishly painted by the Master Painter’s brush each year – there are also hundreds of plants showing displays of lavish beauty, throwing their colours into the wind… to carry our Canadian landscape through to early winter. Numerous autumn plants bloom from mid-September through November.
Here are some of the fall-flowering Canadian beauties presenting a rainbow of colours with their whites, yellows, blues, pinks, purples, violets, golds, reds, scarlets, for us to enjoy: Asters (many types and sizes), Autumn Joy,Balloon Flower, Black-Eyed Susan, Blazing Star, Blue Cardinal, Boltonia, Bugbanes, Bull Thistle, Cardinal Flower,
Carpathian Harebell, Catmint, Chrysanthemums (wide variety of colours and shapes),
Colchicums (sending up blossoms on bare stems, so they are called “Naked Ladies”)
Coneflowers, (long-lived, pest-free, low-maintenance, rough-and-tumble natives, tough as nails – sort of like Canadians, eh?), Coralbells, Coreopsis, False Dragonhead, Gallardia, Giant Sundrop, Globe Thistle, Goldenrod, Great Blue Lobelias, Greek Mallow, Heliopsis, Hosta, Hubricht’s Blue Star, Japanese Anemones,
Lamium, Meadow Beauty, Monkshood, Phlox, Purple Coneflower, Rose Mallow, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spotted Jewelweed, Sunflower, White-Fringed Orchid, Yarrow.
But aside from the leaves changing, and fall flowers, shrubs and vines dazzling us, fall is also a place where we celebrate all the hard work our wonderful Canadian farmers have put into the land to produce food for us.
In the Autumn, we look for apples, artichokes, beans, beets, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, crabapples, Cranberries, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, grapes, leeks, lettuce (assorted), mushrooms, muskmelon, onions (cooking and green), parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rapini, raspberries, rutabaga, snow peas, spinach, sprouts, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini. I think we could make up a pretty amazing dinner from just a few of the above, right?
I always look to buy those items from Ontario farms first, then the rest of Canada, then the U.S. – after that, you’ll have to use your own judgement… Don’t forget – there are many vegetables and herbs, etc. that are now grown in greenhouses, so Canadian availability is very, very wide… Check out Foodland Ontario on the web…
When I was a child families were still allowed to burn piles of leaves, and the aroma remains in my Wonderful Memories Bank, right alongside roses which used to tantalize our noses with a deep, full, rich, creamy scent and which we enjoyed everywhere roses were grown, and the taste of home-made farm butter melting on potatoes, and farm-grown scratch chickens baking….
There are fun memories of running and jumping into the leaves, scattering our leaf-houses, so they could be piled up higher and wider…. and our happy dogs and cats joined us, laughing and rolling around with us. But it’s gone now. No leaf burning anymore — which to me, was a rite of passage from Summer into Fall. One more loss of the little pleasures of play for kids. I urge you, if you have maple trees on your property, before you rake up the leaves in a pile to be bagged for waste, why not invite the kids and cats and dogs to have a fun run-and-jump before you do….
Some people feel a little sadness when autumn arrives, when we have wrung out all the autumn we can from the season, when we have received an Indian Summer Surprise some years, extending the season for a couple of weeks more… and then see the bare branches… well, some people sigh a bit, or feel sad, a little, in that interim before we snuggle into winter and enjoy it’s white-and-black beauty.
Fall also gives us the wonder of a trip to Point Pelee National Park, a lush Carolinian forest oasis at the southern tip of Canada (30 miles south-east of Windsor, Ontario), where millions of bird migrations take place twice a year.
Song birds and Monarch Butterflies mass in the millions for their long journeys south of the border, coming back the same travel route in the spring. Migration can actually continue as late as mid-December. The list is so long, it would take another blog just to write down the names…..(Bet you didn’t know we actually have gazillions of birds here in Canada, did you?) Check it out for yourself…. Point Pelee National Park
But that isn’t all that makes up Autumn! We have the wild and wonderful winds of November, ushering in Hallowe’en and visions of hobgoblins, giving writers great grist for ghostly stories. The melancholia of the season actually stirs up my writer’s blood, since my favourite style of writing is fantasy fiction. What better background for ideas than trees on dark nights bending in the wind, with swirls of dead leaves brushing the forest floor – who wouldn’t be able to see wispy, slinking shapes in the gloom? It’s a time for staying up late at night, when old houses creak, and strange sounds drift in from the darkness outside, and … and…. (what was that movement I could almost make out at the corner of my eye?)… (Autumn Wind – artist Lucien Levy Dhurmer)
YES, THIS IS THE BEGINNING
OF THAT TIME OF YEAR, ALREADY
Dropping a red carpet on the forest floor.
Saying, “Migration! We must leave as before.”
Clearing throats as they sing with a roar.
Summer’s over and done;
Crazy Winter’s almost begun.
® E Joyce Finn/Collie
“Daughter” popping in with some “Fall” oriented tunes that will hopefully make you feel like taking a walk in the crisp autumn air or sit in your most comfy chair by the window watching the leaves peacefully drifting down or gather the family and head out for a drive in the country to view the splendid, colourful scenery (before it’s covered by a wintry white blanket). These songs are all favourites of mine and the versions I’ve found all come courtesy of YouTube posters. I just know you’re going to enjoy them!
1941 – Claude Thornhill & His Orchestra – “Autumn Nocture” performed in New York City on October 6, 1941 (aylerone)
1955 – Beverly Kenny with her unmistakable, sweet voice sings “‘Tis Autumn” (knuckletc)
1957 – Nat King Cole serenades us with “Autumn Leaves” from an October 29, 1957 TV episode of The Nat King Cole Show (punisher6002)
1958 – Frank Sinatra sings the wonderful Vernon Duke tune “Autumn in New York” with arrangement by Billy May (MissFioredipesco)
2006 – Méav and Hayley of Celtic Woman duet on “The Last Rose of Summer” at the legendary Slane Castle in Ireland (kuchkuch992004)
If you’re still in the mood for more fall themed songs please check out Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley’s great jazz version of “Autumn Leaves” (1958) or David Rose (of TV soundtrack fame) performing “The Autumn Waltz” (1958).
I know it’s a long blog, but there are just so MANY quotes on Autumn/Fall! Here are a few to savour.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ― Albert Camus
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
― Lauren DeStefano, Wither
“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ― William Cullen Bryant
“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.”
― Chad Sugg
“October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!” ― Rainbow Rowell, Attachments
“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” ― Lee Maynard
“It was one of those sumptuous days when the world is full of autumn muskiness and tangy, crisp perfection: vivid blue sky, deep green fields, leaves in a thousand luminous hues. It is a truly astounding sight when every tree in a landscape becomes individual, when each winding back highway and plump hillside is suddenly and infinitely splashed with every sharp shade that nature can bestow – flaming scarlet, lustrous gold, throbbing vermilion, fiery orange.” ― Bill Bryson, I’m a Stranger Here Myself:
“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable…the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street…by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.”
― Hal Borland
“I was drinking in the surroundings: air so crisp you could snap it with your fingers and greens in every lush shade imaginable offset by autumnal flashes of red and yellow.”
― Wendy Delsol, Stork
“In Heaven, it is always Autumn”. ― John Donne
“A moral character is attached to autumnal scenes; the leaves falling like our years, the flowers fading like our hours, the clouds fleeting like our illusions, the light diminishing like our intelligence, the sun growing colder like our affections, the rivers becoming frozen like our lives–all bear secret relations to our destinies.”
― François-René de Chateaubriand, Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe
“Fall colors are funny. They’re so bright and intense and beautiful. It’s like nature is trying to fill you up with color, to saturate you so you can stockpile it before winter turns everything muted and dreary.” ― Siobhan Vivian, Same Difference
“I love the start of autumn when the trees in my garden change the colour of their leaves in one last dazzling display.” ― Michael Caine, The Elephant to Hollywood
“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth…The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her…In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.”
― Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond
“The perfect weather of Indian Summer lengthened and lingered, warm sunny days were followed by brisk nights with Halloween a presentiment in the air.”
― Wallace Stegner, Remembering Laughter
“The smell of burning firewood and the molding of organic, earthy substances reminded her of jumping wildly into the enormous leaf piles of autumns past and she suddenly wished that it was appropriate for someone her age to do such a thing.”
― Abby Slovin, Letters In Cardboard Boxes
So go find a pile of leaves! ‘bye for now…. EJ