Reflections from an older resident.
I grew up and lived for much of my life in northern Ontario, where the fall colours always reminded me of the need to make my nest comfortable and cozy for the snowy winter to come. Here in the Comox Valley, the seasons aren’t so extreme, but as the days become shorter and the evenings become cooler, my mind turns to autumn tasks.
Fall isn’t my favourite season—that would be summer. Over the 17 years I’ve lived in Comox, I’ve created a beautiful garden oasis around my little house, with a dozen kinds of white-blooming shrubs and flowers in the front yard and a whole variety of colourful species of flowers and berries in the side and back yard. I’ve got a small apple tree, rhubarb, and lots of berry bushes. My three-year-old neighbour likes to help me pick my blueberries.
I lovingly tend the garden all summer, and it brings me great joy, but now it needs to be put to bed for a well-deserved rest. While I’m doing this, I’m already envisioning the changes I’ll make next year: I may not do hanging baskets because we had so little rain this past summer, but more drought-tolerant plants, like lavender and succulents, are definitely in my plans.
I put away and cover my outdoor garden and patio furniture and wrap my delicate plants in burlap to shelter them from the cold winter wind and rains. I put the fall wreath on my front door and get the feeders out for the hummingbirds.
I put my summer clothes away in my suitcase for my winter escape to Mexico. As soon as the suitcase is closed, I start to miss the warmth of the sun. And I hate trading my sandals for closed-toed shoes. Having said that, I do love changing my wardrobe for fall. It’s nice to switch to long pants, socks, light jackets, and scarves in the rich fall colours of reds, greens, oranges, tans, and browns. I swap my crisp cotton bed sheets for soft fleece, my light duvet is exchanged for a down-filled one, and I pull out some warmer throws to wrap myself in and snuggle up as I think about the perfect time to turn on my fireplace.
I used to run a B&B in Wiarton, Ontario, so I did a lot of downsizing when I moved here, and my home is just the right size for me. My family helped me renovate it with new windows, a bright, clean kitchen that looks out over the back yard, and a combo laundry room/office space (unusual, I know, but it suits me to a T). In fall, of course, I start spending more time inside, especially in the kitchen.
I can start making soups again to warm me from the inside out when the cold starts to settle in—cream of potato and leek is one of my favourites. The freezer is filled with a harvest of my summer berries and rhubarb, and I think about all the wonderful things I can create, like jams, jellies, and crisps. I pruned the apple tree pretty hard this year, so I’ll have to make apple crisp with store-bought fruit, but it will still fill the house with that warm, spicy aroma.
One of the best things about fall is that Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas are coming up: some of my favourite celebrations where I get to share my cozy nest, and wonderful feasts, with family and friends.