First only a bit at a time, then suddenly, fall was here. For me, there is a sense of relaxation that goes with fall days. All the months of hard work in the scorching summer heat is past, and we’ve got flickering candles, cappuccino, and snow flurries ahead. Also, some spiced apple cider!
On the other hand, in my mind, I have these pictures in my head of little ones wanting to play outdoors in freezing temperatures yet are confined to the house most of the winter. But then it’s like my husband, Daniel, reminded me, “We survived last winter, so we’ll be fine this winter.” Of course, how simple. So, for now, we’ll be thinking about the coziness of the winter months.
As I think of all the blustery days ahead, I’m reminded of all those who don’t even have a warm place to find shelter or even hot, nourishing meals. Oh, life really isn’t fair, is it? May our hearts ever be searching and open to ways of reaching out and making a difference for others.
This fall, we’re all aware that there are so many difficult situations stirring in our nation, which once felt so safe. Yet, I find no inspiration or blessing in keeping track of or mulling over these stark negatives. I’ve found that for me, it works the opposite. Peace returns to my heart as I once more set my sights on the only One who can do a thing about it all or even keep us safe. It’s then that I relax and enjoy the moment as I watch colored leaves drifting to the ground. After all, each detail of our lives, including the upcoming election, is in the hands of the One who created all of us, and the beauty of autumn, which doesn’t seem to be a bit worried about it all!
Talking of fall leaves, I wish you could see the maple grove behind the house in the splendor of fall. It is truly breathtaking. As a little girl, I loved collecting pretty leaves. I’ve never outgrown it. Last week the children helped me gather a bunch that we placed in books to dry. Our next step is to hang them on the living room wall for us to enjoy. Jesse and Elijah were serious about helping collect leaves, as they brought crushed yellow and brown ones by the handful.
Then there is the fall specialty of fresh cider. To me, there is nothing like a Sunday afternoon with fresh cider, a bowl of freshly popped popcorn (seasoned by my man, who makes the best popcorn I’ve ever had), and a couple of slices of a juicy red apple.
How I would’ve enjoyed having you join us at my brother-in-law, John, and his family, as we made cider with an old fashioned cider press. Us ladies washed and halved a barrel of red apples as the men cranked them through the press. Soon fresh cider was oozing into buckets by the gallon. When the job was completed, we were pleased with 8 gallons. By the time we were done, it had cooled off a bit outside, just perfect to sit in the backyard with bowls of steaming chili soup.
When we got home, I put some of ours in the freezer to be used for spiced cider on one of these cool evenings. The spiced cider was first introduced to me when Daniel and I were courting. While I was in Ohio, spending time with Daniel and his family, his sister Mary made a pot full and served it to everyone. I was impressed with the first sip I took, it still remains a favorite today. I may be partial, but to me, it doesn’t taste remotely close the same as store boughten mix!
Spiced Apple Cider
1 quart cider
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
orange or mandarin orange slices
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
Pour cider into a kettle. Place spices in a cheese cloth, tie shut with a twisty tie. Toss cinnamon sticks and cheese cloth with spices, into cider.
Bring to a boil, simmer 20 minutes. Remove spices.
Serve hot,with a few orange slices and a cinnamon stick stirrer, in each mug. Yummy!