Oh my. It’s finally here. That time during the year when cozy slippers replace sandals, when hot tea replaces iced and when a walk at dusk is brisk and breezy rather than steamy and sticky. I’m rejoicing, because this season is my favorite, and I imagine I’m not alone in my opinion. We’re lucky to live in San Diego, where the climate is mild, even in autumn, and where countless orchards, farms and vineyards surround our city limits. This translates to the ideal conditions for “you pick” outings — a great way to feel you’ve participated in the “farm to table” process yourself and bypassed the third-party grocery store produce department.
This year and last, we drove to Julian, picked our own apples (and enjoyed the obligatory piece of fresh-baked Julian apple pie — deliciousness defined) and brought them home to use in a light and healthy apple crisp that warmed and scented our house dreamily as it bubbled in the oven. We also headed to a farm in the extreme North County that grows countless crops, but in October, pumpkins, where we selected our own from the field where they grew, explored a corn maze and wandered through the cute country store, perusing the other farm-grown offerings. And now that last year’s canned pumpkin shortage is history, you can bet the smells of spiced pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie and pumpkin lattes will be wafting from my kitchen window.
So much about fall traditions revolves around celebrating nature’s bounty, and we celebrate it with Sukkot (this year it was in September) and with Thanksgiving this month. I can’t think of two better holidays that allow celebrants to revel in God’s generosity when it comes to the earth’s natural offerings than these two.
Another mainstay of the cool autumn season, it seems, is reading. When the days aren’t so sunny and outdoor activities aren’t as appealing, the next best thing is to warm up indoors with a good book, and who doesn’t love one of those? (Confession: I loved them so much, that when I was 10 or so, I pulled all of mine off my book shelves — and I had heaps of them to satisfy my insatiable hunger for reading — laid them out across the expanse of my parents’ entire living room, alphabetized them by author’s last name, and placed them all back on the shelves in a neat, orderly fashion. Crazy, I’m aware. Why my parents weren’t more concerned, I’ll never know. But I digress.)
Perhaps our autumnal peak in literary interest also stems from the association of going back to school, and after years of conditioning as children and teenagers, most of us just get in the mood to learn something new this time of year. Whatever it is, though, books just seem to be extraordinarily appealing right now. That’s why I’m so excited about this month’s Jewish book festival. If you haven’t already, take a look at our overview of events, starting on page 38 to see what to expect. I genuinely have never been more impressed at the variety of authors and the intrigue of all the topics, and I think you’ll agree. Whether it’s cooking or humor, religion or politics, art or memoir, I guarantee you’ll have a hard time choosing which to squeeze into your schedule. I know I will. Whichever I choose, though, I know the event might very well end with me picking up a new book and taking it home to read under a warm blanket with a mug of hot spiced apple cider. Autumn, where have you been the past 10 months of my life?