Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, with a particular focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields.
Looking Up & Around
Happy October, friends. Autumn is here and so is the full harvest moon! Set aside some time today to gaze up at that big astronomical body. If you’re familiar with monthly moon names, you may be wondering why it’s the harvest moon instead of the hunter moon, which normally falls in October. The harvest moon isn’t confined to September. It is actually the full moon that falls after the autumn equinox, which we celebrated on September 22. The harvest moon fell in October in 2009 and will land there again in 2020, so it’s rare, but definitely not unheard of.
What else is happening this month? As always, but possibly more apparent this month, are all the changes taking place in the woods. I always think of October outdoors as a month of transition. We experience the leaves, nuts, and seeds falling from trees and traveling in the breeze. Mushrooms are springing up after the first fall rains, while flowers are both blooming and going to seed. Bees are still buzzing (and stinging me), while squirrels and chipmunks scurry around securing their own harvest.
This is quite possibly the most comfortable month to be out and about in the woods. Sunshine, cool breezes and barely any bugs make every hike a great one. I’m spending the week working in Asheville, North Carolina, an area that absolutely explodes with leaf peepers, especially on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tens of thousands of people flock to western North Carolina during October and November to watch the autumn colors slowly emerge starting with higher elevations and trickling down the mountainsides. The elevation range in the Great Smokey Mountains basically ensures that fall color will stick around for at least three weeks each year. There are websites dedicated to tracking the changing fall foliage and it’s impossible to miss the influx of visitors as traffic can be bumper to bumper on the blue ridge and hotel rooms impossible to find.
Fields and Festivals
It’s that time of year when farmer’s markets in my area transition from two days per week to one. I know, I’m spoiled, but sometimes it’s hard to wake up on a Saturday and when that’s the case, what’s a girl to do? I had to make a quiche this week with store-bought mushrooms, WTF. Joking aside though, I love the market at this time of year. The weather is sunny, but the air is cool. I can sip on cider or tea while strolling by each vendor as I slowly make recipe plans and ingredient decisions. In contrast, during the summer, I’m gulping down iced coffee and wanting to put down my bags, take off my tank top, and pass out from heat exhaustion. No chill.
This is the time of year when those crops that require the full summer growing season are finally ready for harvest. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I’m still seeing watermelon and tomatoes along with elderberries, grapes, peppers, and eggplants. Apples, okra, corn, potatoes, pumpkin, and other winter squash are abound as well.
The coolest thing at my market right now though? Soup subscriptions. How freaking neat. Short Winter Soups, a company established by Tova Boehm in 2010, provides each subscriber with a quart of soup every week for eight weeks. The soup ingredients are sourced locally from over a dozen farms. I love this idea and the thought of Tova
pouring stirring her heart and soul into delicious soup recipes each week. Growing up, our mom made a lot of soup. Momma Schu’s soups were a staple during family gatherings, soccer games, snowstorms and weekends on the farm. Soccer concession stand fans would actually refer to her as the soup queen. All hail the soup queens among us.
If you’re not feeling the farmer’s market, October is the month to head straight to the fields. Hayrides and pick-your-own patches are some of my fondest fall memories, not just as a kid, but up until a few years ago too. I feel like I’ve traveled the past few falls because I can’t remember the last time I carved a pumpkin or balanced an apple on my head (holy shit that was seven years ago), what a shame! If you need any inspiration for your fall harvest, we have a full pumpkin archive, with a few main dish recipes as well as an apple archive that includes more alcoholic drinks than you could make all weekend. I dare ya.
- I mentioned watching the leaves change in the Great Smoky Mountains. Ready for your mind to be blown? It’s the most popular national park with over eleven million visitors last year. In.sane.
- Vermont is also a popular destination for leaf chasers, but really, any forest is bursting with color this month so where ever you are, you don’t have to drive far, tie up your boots and hit the trail.
- There’s more than just colorful leaves floating around, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta runs from the 7th-15th. It’s always been a dream of mine to attend and one day I’ll remember to make plans more than forty-eight hours in advance. I believe in me.
- The Earth Harmony Festival is this weekend (October 7-8). The Earth Harmony Festival celebrates eco-living & sustainability. It’s held on the country’s largest EcoVillage located in Arizona. Did I mention that it’s practically free?! You gotta go.
- While September was packed with environmental holidays, October has only a couple official ones, including World Habitat Day, which just passed on Monday. We kinda missed the boat on that one, but it’s not too late to stop and reflect on our basic human right to adequate shelter. Maybe you’d like to do some volunteer work this month in conjunction with homeless shelters as a way to commemorate the day?
Capturing the Beauty
How do we hang on to enchanting autumn as long as possible? Take some photos! The time lapse of our apple antics is still one of my favorite photo sessions with the Schu sisters. I can still remember how much we giggled when those were taken seven years ago! I like to balance out the silly with the serious though. I think the film portrait of our sister Kristin, shown above, captures her spirit perfectly. Add that it’s taken on the road that leads to our family farm and you have an iconic photo that will surely be shared for generations. As each season passes, I find it more and more important to take photos of family and friends and what better backdrop than a carpet of freshly fallen leaves? Here’s a tutorial on photographing fall and photographing landscapes in general. Even if you fail to preserve fall on film, I hope you capture it in your heart. Cheesy?! IDGAF.