JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: We've had a lovely, lingering September here in the Northeast, but it's over now, and autumn has definitely arrived. Nighttime temperature in southern Maine are dipping into the low forties and upper thirties, and you definitely want to wear a jacket morning and evening. At our house, Ross has done what he hopes is the last mowing, and instead we're raking leaves and hauling away the prodigious numbers of apples dropping from our trees. (Seriously, if you live near Gorham, ME and you want all-organic apples for jellies or sauce, let me know. It's like an apple avalanche here.)
We all know about Spring cleaning - and some of us may actually get around to it - but for me, Fall is really the time to get busy. Not with mopping and dusting and such, but with the serious work of preparing for winter. What's on my to-do list? I have to schedule the chimney sweep to clean our two wood stoves and two fireplaces. The furnace guy needs to come in and do the same for the furnace. We've got three cords of wood arriving on October 9th; all of it has to be hauled into the wood room and stacked, hopefully before the rains hit in November.
Somewhere out in the barn are the glass panels for our screen doors - hopefully they haven't been casually covered up with empty boxes or to-be-donated bags of clothing. We've thrown a lot of stuff in there since May...
Inside, I get through the big job of trading out summer wardrobes for winter clothes by doing one person at a time over a week or ten days. The oldest two mostly handle it themselves now, although The Boy will undoubtedly come to me looking for this sweater or that turtleneck. Ross, on the other hand, would have to live in polo shirts and light-weight khakis if I didn't haul his heavy things out from under the bed and down from the attic. He's always so amazed and grateful at the inexplicable reappearance of his seasonal clothing, though, I don't mind acting as his valet. Before putting the summer things in storage, I sort and toss - the Unutterably Awful go in the bin, the things no one has worn into the donation pile.
Also coming down from the attic: coats, scarves, mittens, gloves and boots. Some of them we hopefully won't need for a while, but it's easier to make the change-over all at once. All but a few lightweight jackets go into the front hall closet; out of the way but not inaccessible.
More raking, more picking up apples, more stacking wood. Ross is in charge of mulching and dividing bulbs and all the fall garden stuff (we long ago established that my role was that of ignorant laborer.) I'll buy some pumpkins and arrange them on the urns out front, and find the fall-leaves wreath (another trip to the barn) and hang it on the front door. Better call the oil man and get the first 200 gallons of the season delivered. Groan.
How about you, Reds? What's on your to-do list for fall?
RHYS BOWEN: Fall? What's that, she asked when the temperature is still 90. We actually don't have fall here. It's warm, sunny, delightful until some time in November and then like migrating birds we head south to Arizona. Such wimps, I know. And we don't do much to close up the house here as my son pops in all the time, my daughter sleeps over on their way to the city and there is generally traffic and house being used, which is great.
And as far as fall in the garden... alas this year there is no garden apart from our lovely lemon trees that keep on producing in spite of te drought. I planted nothing knowing we couldn't water. They are predicting a monster el nino this year so maybe I can put plants in again next year.... or maybe the existing ones will be washed away. We never know out here.
LUCY BURDETTE: Oh boy do I envy those apples, and especially the lemons! I have to do something with the last minute bumper crop of eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. It seems a shame not to use them when John battled the woodchucks all season and finally won!
We'll be heading to Key West in November--always look forward to that! But it's not easy to try to remember to bring things we *might* need: passports, tax files, dog medicines, cat scratching post (because there's only in the world he'll use), etc. We always argue about this--
John: You're not bringing that!
Me: We've got all the room in the world.
and somehow it all fits:).
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Fall? I cannot stand it. There is some horrible glitch in the time-space continuum that is making the time go by too quickly. It's still July, I know it is. I am sorry. I cannot face it. (The dahlias hardly bloomed, which is perplexing. Jonathan is muttering something about taking out the air conditioners, and looking for storm doors, and I wore a sweater the other day..) But I am ridiculously behind, and I am shocked by the Halloween candy in the store, and and and I will be all better when my book is finished.
And: I saw a leaf fall. I let out a huge wail. "Oh NO!"
"What?" Jonathan asked, all concerned.
"A falling leaf!" I yelped.
(I'm not sure how he puts up with me.)
JULIA: You didn't get into the pool again this year, did you, Hank.
HALLIE EPHRON: Our heat came up last night... and my husband and I are sneezing. And I'm sitting here at my keyboard in a turtleneck and sweatshirt. Sure signs of fall. I'm wondering what kind of fall foliage we'll have because it's been so dry.
My husband rakes. And puts in the storm windows. I nag. And I'm in charge of soup and bedding (our massive quilt needs washing). And we're all terrified that we're going to have another winter like the last.
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: We live in a condo here in NYC, so there's not too much to do besides put the quilts on the beds and change out the light cotton spring/summer couch pillows for heavier needlepoint and velvet ones. I made a roast for the first time last week and am looking forward to using the crockpot for more soups and stews.
The big thing around our place is Halloween, what what Kiddo's costume will be this year — his ideas change daily. The latest I've heard was the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. But other contenders are: Jacob Frye from Assassins Creed (which he's NOT allowed to play), The Sorting Hat from Harry Potter, and Darth Maul from the Star Wars saga.Whatever he chooses, on the day of Halloween, he will undoubtedly change his mind, and then Hubby and I will scramble to put the new costume together..... (Oh yes, these are homemade costumes...)
JULIA: Okay, I'm beginning to get a hint of why it takes longer for me to write a book than the other Reds... although Susan, I have to admit I'm happy to be at the stage where my offspring put together their own costumes. Oh, the Octobers spent sewing up witch dresses, cheetah costumes and knights' tabards.
How about you, dear readers? Are switching velvet for cotton? Putting up storm windows? Planning to flee to warmer climes? (Lucky you!) Tell us what's on your autumn to-do list!