Celebrate the First Day of Fall

 “How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” -John Burroughs

Saturday is the first day of fall. I must confess that my feelings about this time of year have shifted rather dramatically. I used to delight in everything about fall – crunchy leaves, red apples, the start of school. But now that I share my days with two little ones, fall does not not hold quite the same appeal. I love summer with kids – gardening and running through the sprinkler and throwing the doors wide open in the evenings — so it’s hard to say goodbye to it. But, ready or not, fall has arrived. Here are a few simple ideas to observe the change in season:

  • Reflect:

Do we subconsciously tip waiters more on sunny days? So says Leonard Mlodinow  in Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Life. And changes in the weather probably affect us in countless other ways that we’re barely aware of.

If you have some time this season to reflect on our relationship with nature and how closely our emotional states mirror the “capricious, moody earth itself”, I recommend David Abram’s mind-bending long-form essay “Air Aware,” which I read in Orion three years ago and still think about all the time. Here’s an excerpt:

If our sense of inward confusion and muddledness is anciently and inextricably bound up with our outward experience of being enveloped in a fog—if our whole conceptualization of the emotional mood or “feel” of things is unavoidably entwined with metaphors of “atmospheres,” “airs,” and “climates”—then it is hardly projection to notice that it is not only human beings (and human-made spaces) that carry moods: that the living land in which we dwell, and in whose life we participate, has its own feeling-tone and style that varies throughout a day or a season.

  • Read:

What better way to celebrate cooler weather than with a stack of fall-themed library books? Here are a few of my family’s favorite autumn picture books:

  • Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  • Autumn is for Apples by Michelle Knudsen
  • Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
  • Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelly
  • It’s Fall! by Linda Glaser.

It’s also fun to read aloud from The Autumn Equinox by Ellen Jackson, which educates on different modern and historical cultural traditions celebrating the day.

Looking for adult reads to help you wile away the cooler days? Check out some of the season’s new releases.

  • Eat:

Fall is a time of abundance where I live: bushels of sun-ripened tomatoes, every variety of squash . . . and pumpkins. Here’s a recipe that will bring some of the best tastes and scents of fall into your kitchen.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin, baked and mashed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • a handful of walnuts or raisins (optional)

Mix and pour into an oiled bread pan. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Test with a tooth pick. Cool and enjoy.

(Thanks to my friend Craig, who generously shared this recipe with me several years ago, including all of his healthy twists.)

Wishing you a happy first day of fall. You can find many more ways to celebrate the season here.

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About Abby Quillen

Abby Quillen writes fiction and magazine articles. Her articles and essays have appeared in YES! Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Colorado Central Magazine, and on Common Dreams, Nation of Change, Reader Supported News, The Daily Good, Truthout, and Shareable.net. You can find more of her writing at http://abbyquillen.com.


  1. Abby, thank you for the recipe–I look forward to making this with my daughter this week. Both of your posts about autumn inspire me to stop mourning the loss of summer and, instead, look forward to the season with enthusiasm and gratitude. We went hiking in Buford Park yesterday, and it was gorgeous!

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Hi Melissa! We just went to Mount Pisgah, and it really is wonderful this time of year – soft light, crisp air, crunchy leaves. But is it terrible to hope the rain holds off for another month?

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