Autumn has always been my favourite season. I grew up in Canada, where we called it Fall, and it meant back to school with new clothes, a new winter coat and walking to school on crisp mornings eating pears I'd taken from my neighbour's tree. I loved watching the leaves change colour because it meant Thanksgiving and Halloween was coming and then Christmas right after, with the hope for snow days that meant no school. The fields would be full of large orange pumpkins that would end up piled outside the grocery store or farmer's markets ready for carving for Jack-o-lanterns.
Growing up on the west coast, on an island in a temperate rainforest, meant that when the rainy season started (usually coinciding with Halloween which meant costumes often involved a large rubbish bag to keep us dry) it spelled the end of the warm, sunny days where the leaves were crunchy and fun to play in. Once it starts raining on Vancouver Island it generally doesn't stop until Spring. The joke is that it only rains twice - once from November till December and again from January to March.
But before the rain set in there would days spent raking and piling the colourful, crunchy maple leaves ready for jumping in and burying each other. Sometimes we'd pile the leaves up and set them on fire - the smell of bonfires always reminds me of autumn days at home. The river that we spent the summer swimming in would all of a sudden change. One day it would be great for swimming and then inexplicably the next time you went it would feel different and swimming didn't seem so appealing. The smell of the water and air would change and we'd have school trips to go and watch the salmon spawn.
Having a place you return to in all seasons reinforces the understanding of seasonal change and cements the connection to place. This weekend I've been down at Lake Tekapo and have spent the mornings walking my dog, exploring the spaces I last saw in the heat of the summer and finding treasures to photograph. I love finding mushrooms, acorns and rosehips and seeing the trees halfway between their summer and autumn colours.
What can you do with your children to celebrate autumn? Perhaps bring piles of leaves into your centre for playing in or go on a scavenger hunt for conkers, acorns or pine cones. Could you go on a mushroom walk and see how many different types you can find? If you have a vegetable garden maybe you could have a harvest party and invite families to share some kai. Maybe you could help an elderly neighbour harvest fruit from their tree. Whatever you choose I hope you have great days making autumn memories of your own.