‘Tis autumn

Fall is my favourite season by about sixty miles. I can see why summer-lovers adore our sunnier months, but to me they just can’t compete with rainbow-coloured forests, Blundstone-friendly temperatures, and hot apple cider.

This is my favourite sweater in the universe. It makes me look like a big burnt marshmallow, but it's delightfully warm and cozy.

This is my favourite sweater in the universe. It makes me look like a big burnt marshmallow, but it’s delightfully warm and cozy.

That weird and instantly recognizable autumn smell — like burning cedar or decaying leaves — was in the air this morning. This afternoon, I walked through a store filled with bright, plastic-wrapped binders and colourful crayons. I just pulled my favourite sweaters out of storage. Those things shouldn’t make me happy, but they just do.

I’ve been thinking about why and I suspect it’s because when I was little, September was the only month I got new shoes. Maman, Alicia and I would go to Naturestep at the Midland Mall and try every pair that might fit our feet. It was wonderful. Should I mentally accord so much importance to something so material? Probably not. But I honoured that tradition today anway and picked up some woolly flats.

New woolly grey shoes.

New woolly grey shoes.

As I sit at the edge of this season of renewal (on my couch, of course), I’m pondering where JF and I have been and where we’re going. Two things make this fall different from falls past.

One: we’re good and settled. I’ll take part in October’s Elmvale Fall Fair all weekend long, like a true local. I’m looking forward to buying mums from Ritchies. I even painted my front door a pretty blue that should go beautifully with pumpkins from Rounds Ranch.

Pretty blue door, complete with owly door knocker.

Pretty blue door, complete with owly door knocker.

Two: I’m gleefully employed in education. Last Tuesday, Georgian’s halls were filled with lost 18-year-olds in their best togs. There’s a happy sort of buzz on campus that reminds me of that time Anne said to Marilla “isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Autumn means small, every day excitements — my favourite kind. I’ve no doubt I’ll be cursing this season when I’m dragging a rake over my dying lawn. But for now, I’ll just flip through the scarf-filled catalogs they keep stuffing in my mailbox and enjoy it.

 

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Kansas

Sometimes I feel like Dorothy. Yesterday, I learned that Flynn’s Irish Pub in Penetanguishene becomes Uncle Flynn’s Daycare during business hours.

Huh?

When I hear about stuff like that, I can help but think “Mikaela, you’re not in Toronto anymore.” I’m actually in Kansas. Or what most Torontonians think of as the equivalent of Kansas: Ontario farm country.

Here are two other examples.

1) The other day I asked a colleague from Elmvale where I could drop off my dry cleaning in town. The answer surprised me.

“The gun shop,” she said.

“!??,” I said with my face.

A quick call to her husband, a local tradesman, confirmed it. Watson’s Sports is where you go to get your clothes dry cleaned in my town. While you’re dropping off your silk shirts, you can also pick up a new Ruger and some Hula Poppers. Amazing.

That night I – the pacifist vegetarian – stood in front of the gun shop on Queen Street East with an armload of dirty officewear, looking for some sign that they cleaned clothes.

My eyes found a barely legible, tucked away old placard that either said “French cry leaners” or “French’s dry cleaners.”  I hoped it was the latter and went in.

A man stared me down as I dumped my blouses and trousers on the glass counter – right on top of the ammo. He didn’t offer to help me. Didn’t even bat an eye.

“Do you take dry cleaning?” I asked.

“Yes we do,” he volunteered.

“…?” I said with my face. “I’d like to get these cleaned. How long will it take?”

“Two weeks,” he replied as he slowly moved to fill out a receipt.

I tried not to look shocked (two weeks!?) and walked around the store. I’m pretty sure there was a mounted stuffed dear head behind a rack of camouflage coats. Pray for my favourite blazer.

2) This past weekend was the Elmvale Fall Fair, in all its carnivalesque glory. There are so many reasons to love this event.

For starters, all of the moms and dads with kids at local schools take a day off work to watch their children march in the Friday afternoon parade. Apparently it lasts all of 15 minutes. That, friends, is community.

Then there’s the Saturday afternoon parade, which features pretty much all non-school-aged Elmvalers – everyone from grannies on scooters to farmers on tractors.

Also worth seeing at the fair: the tractor pull, oddest-shaped vegetable, best barley, most beautifully decorated pancake, and of course, the top cow.

This year, my old roomie Steph and I watched a handful of (we thought identical) three-year-old jersey cows walk around in circles and compete for a shiny red ribbon. A dairy farmer sitting next to us explained that judges look for cows with veiny udders and great “angularity” – that means bony.

But what I love most about the fair is that basically every living person originally from Elmvale comes to town, plus several extras like me. We could probably have sold parking spots in our driveway.

This really is a whole other world. My personal Oz.

The eighth oddest shaped vegetable in Elmvale

These cows are for eating, but at the fall fair, they are treated like queens.

These cows are for eating, but at the fall fair, they are treated like queens.

Off her rocker.

Off her rocker.

Mini princesses at the parade.

Mini princesses at the parade.

Elmvale is...

Rural Elmvale is… where we come back

Rural life.

Rural life.

Steph at the top of the ferris wheel

Steph at the top of the ferris wheel