Posts Tagged ‘seasons’

apple trees blue sky

Every September, we head to the orchard. And every September, I am enchanted.

After five years in New England, we have established a few beloved traditions. This is one of my favorites.

apple trees branches

I am always amazed by the low, rambling trees: so different from the tidy rows I remember seeing in picture books. (There are no apple orchards in West Texas, where I grew up.)

The reality is messier, though the different varieties are clearly marked. We always head straight for the Empires, plucking them off the branches, crunching as we go.

This year, we had a big crowd: both newbies and veterans. We arrived in a pack, then wandered the rows in loose, straggling groups, picking, laughing, snapping pictures.

adam jer orchard

The guys always have to do a little climbing, and a little horsing around.

Eventually, we all met up at the other side of the farm, for apple cider donuts, chili dogs and more photos.

katie abi orchard

This is our sixth year picking apples together. Abi loves it as much as I do. We have been friends since our freshman year in college, and I am constantly grateful that we get to live this Boston life side by side.

katie evie orchard

Sweet Evie (who belongs to Abi) is too young to pick apples yet, but she happily came along for the ride.

We had such perfect weather this year: blue skies, crisp air, golden sunshine. Of course, I love sharing it all with this guy.

katie jer orchard apple trees

I’ve already made one apple crisp, and snacked on a few apples out of hand. Yum.

What are your favorite fall traditions?

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red leaves blue sky autumn

I woke up last Monday morning to a certain realization: fall had arrived, seemingly overnight.

After the snowiest winter on record, we enjoyed – even gloried in – a hot, sun-soaked summer. I hesitated to complain about the heat, because the memory of winter’s sharp cold and piles of gray-edged snow lingered in my mind. (I always hesitate to complain about heat in New England: it feels like tempting fate, because I know winter is coming.)

ogunquit beach sunset

When the heat index rose this summer, I simply slathered on more sunscreen, turned the ceiling fans up a notch, and stocked up on lemonade and ice cream. The hubs and I escaped to the beach on multiple weekends (see above), and if things got really bad, we retreated to places with air-conditioning.

But by the time my parents visited in early September, I admit it – I was ready for fall.

The temperature swung from 90 to 60 degrees while Mom and Dad were here, but we had a few more summer-like days after they left. I did my best to savor them, going kayaking on the Charles River and walking around in shorts. But last Monday, the shift in the air was sharp and sudden. Autumn is here.

kayak river light water

In response to the sudden shift in seasons, I’m enjoying – and making – a few subtler changes.

I’m sipping fall teas – cranberry almond, Cream of Earl Grey – instead of summer’s ginger peach and blackberry sage. I ordered a couple of favorite autumnal candles, and I’ve switched from my beachy summer perfume to a crisp, classic scent. I’m wearing jeans and ballet flats and button-downs. And I’m thinking about fall activities, fall reading and other things on my autumn list.

Fall in New England is so lovely every year: red leaves, blue skies, juicy apples, that energizing crispness in the air. I know we are heading toward winter, but for now I’ll do my best to savor every moment of this season.

How do you mark or observe the change in seasons?

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Fall List 2015

harvard yellow leaves houghton library

After a lovely, lingering summer, both the calendar and the weather are sliding toward autumn. I love a good seasonal list, so here’s what I’m hoping to do and enjoy this fall:

  • Go apple picking (as always), eat apple cider donuts, drink chai and bake something with pumpkin.
  • Take long walks and maybe a few day trips to soak in the fall colors and light.
  • Reread Emily of Deep Valley – it is a perfect autumn book and I could use a dose of Emily’s “muster my wits” spirit.
  • Go see the Corita Kent exhibit at the Harvard Art Museums.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo, which is always such fun.
  • Find my fall flower at the local florist. This spring was all about tulips and daffodils, and this summer I fell deeply in love with sunflowers.
  • Read a few “deep TBR” books that have been lingering on the stack for a while.
  • Try three or four new recipes.
  • See Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella onstage.
  • Sip the occasional glass of Cabernet with a friend.

What’s on your list for this fall?

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astrid veronika lemonade stripes

What is it that makes us know when the summer turns? The smallest shift in the light? The slightest hint of chill in the morning air? A certain rustling of the leaves of the birches? That is how it is – suddenly, in the midst of the summer heat, you are overcome by a tightening of your heart. The realisation that it will all come to an end. And that brings a new intensity to everything: the colours, the smells, the feeling of sunshine on your arm. […]

Summer had turned. Although the weather remained sunny and warm, with each morning the air grew a touch crisper, the light a shade sharper, the evenings a notch darker.

Astrid & Veronika, Linda Olsson

I read Astrid & Veronika in late July, sitting in Harvard Yard with a cup of blueberry lemonade in hand. It’s a spare, lovely story about two women who become neighbors and help one another deal with deep grief. It is also about noticing the details, including the subtle shift in the seasons, the turning of summer toward fall.

The passage above leaped out at me when I read it, even though we were in the thick of summer, its full glorious green heat (and humidity). Now the calendar has flipped to September, and I’m noticing that seasonal shift – even though the weather is still summer-like.

Everyone I know – or their kids – seems to be heading back to school. (I work in higher ed and my circles of friends, both in Boston and Texas, include a lot of university students, professors and staff.) The blue of the sky is a little deeper, heading for that autumn blue I love so much. The sunsets are coming a little earlier, the sunrises a few minutes later. The light is sharpening a bit, the haze of summer gradually disappearing.

It has been a lovely summer and also a difficult one, in some ways. I am hoping for good things this fall, starting with a visit from my parents this week. And as I walk through these autumn days, I will do my best to pay attention, to notice the shifting light, the new coolness in the air, all the harbingers of my favorite season.

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scituate ma water sky

Back in June, which seems forever ago now, I posted a summer list of all the fun things I wanted to do. As we head into fall, I thought I’d post an update (since it’s nearly time to make a new list). Here’s how I did:

  • Eat all the summer fruits (rhubarb, peaches, tomatoes and every kind of berry I can find). Pretty sure I’ve eaten my weight in peaches, berries and cherries.

cherries toast breakfast

  • Related: go to the farmers’ market at Harvard and maybe the one over at Copley Square. I’ve been to the Harvard market nearly every week, where I’ve bought lots of berries (see above), tomatoes, zucchini, and a few strawberry basil popsicles. (Also: lots of tamales.)

strawberry popsicle

  • Wear skirts and shorts as often as possible. I’ve basically been living in them for months.

snicker of magic book beach summer

  • Get a pedicure (or two). Yes.

bare feet green yoga mat

  • Snuggle my friends’ baby, Evie. I’ve been hanging out with Evie and her mama, Abi, about once a week. So much fun.

baby evie

  • Go visit my family in Texas. I had a great time.

betsy harrison

  • Laugh and laugh with J at episodes of Modern Family. We’re in the middle of season 4 and still laughing our heads off.
  • Go kayaking on the Charles River. One of my favorite new activities this summer.

katie adam kayak

  • Drink lemonade and sangria. Yes and yes.

astrid veronika lemonade stripes

  • Eat lots of ice cream (and fro-yo). Again, yes and yes. The hubs is a frequent co-conspirator.

jer lulus ice cream

  • Take lots of long walks (to counterbalance the ice cream). Definitely.

sandals rocks beach

  • Soak up every bit of summer sunshine – summer in New England is lovely but fleeting. I’ve done my best, and it has been glorious.

pell bridge sunset

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harvard yard memorial church view

Here is part of the truth about working at Harvard: it took a little while for it to feel like mine.

I admit to being a little intimidated – as one might expect. Harvard is storied, prestigious and often complicated to navigate, geographically and otherwise. (Harvard comprises more than a dozen schools, which each function as semi-autonomous units, but there’s a lot of cross-pollination, and some policies and procedures are university-wide.)

memorial hall harvard

I was fortunate to find a “home base” right away: my office at the Ed School’s campus on Appian Way, two blocks from the heart of the Square. I had colleagues who made me feel welcome and tried to explain the ins and outs of working for a unit within Harvard, while still being part of Harvard as a whole. (Confused yet?)

blue sky appian way

That first winter, I set about exploring Harvard Square, starting with familiar ground: Crema Cafe, the Yard, Memorial Church, the Harvard Book Store. Gradually, I added to my store of knowledge: shops, cafes and restaurants; the bank, the post office, the florist. I peeked into Widener Library, daring to check out a few books and DVDs. I soaked up the bits of Harvard lore I heard from colleagues and student tour guides, and I memorized dozens of acronyms related to offices and units across campus. (Harvard loves an acronym.)

And yet.

For a long while, I stuck mostly to my small patch of the Square: my office, the Yard, my favorite cafes and bookstores. I was a little shy about going farther afield. This is a big place, and it’s easy to get lost, or to feel intimidated when you’re heading to a new part of campus. There is so much to absorb, so much to take in, about this place and how it works. It can be hard to feel like you really belong here.

katie memorial church green coat harvard yard

Two and a half years in, I still feel these things occasionally. But by now, Harvard also feels like mine.

My work this summer has taken me to parts of campus I’d never seen before: the Divinity School, the Graduate School of Design, the Center for Astrophysics, the brand-new Launch Lab over at the Business School. I’ve spent a few afternoons in Lamont Library and found my way to numerous new-to-me offices and buildings.

All the while, I’ve continued to frequent my favorite places: Harvard Yard, green and summer-lush; the Harvard Art Museums, full of objects both fascinating and beautiful; Appian Way, still my center of gravity here. And I have realized again what I already knew: I love this place, this landscape, this institution, down to my bones.

I never expected to work at Harvard, or to fall in love with it the way I have. But I am grateful to be here, retracing familiar paths and discovering new corners of campus. It can be complicated, sometimes maddeningly bureaucratic – and the intimidation hasn’t all disappeared. But my Harvard staff ID and my heart say the same thing: it’s mine.

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charles river light boston summer

This is the summer of yoga in the morning, unrolling my green mat in the dining room and going through my stretches and sun salutations as the sunshine slants across the wood floors.

This is the summer of tall daylilies and pale pink peonies, of vivid multicolored hydrangeas, of cheerful, leggy yellow sunflowers wrapped in burlap at the market or in a blue Mexican vase on my kitchen table.


This is the summer of warm evenings on the Charles River, sitting in the front of a bright pink kayak while my friend Adam sits in the back, finding our synchronized paddling rhythm and stopping to watch the geese and ducklings.

katie adam kayak

This is the summer of writing it all down – on the blog, in the journals splashed with my messy handwriting, in daily texts and occasional emails to friends.

This is the summer of mornings at Darwin’s, drinking chai or ginger peach tea amid the sunset-colored walls, nibbling on a scone or a breakfast sandwich, typing away on my laptop amid fellow solitary workers and groups of chattering friends.

darwins cafe cup

This is the summer of so many mysteries: Lady Georgie, Bess Crawford and Daisy Dalrymple. It is the summer of smart, engaging nonfiction, a little chick lit, a couple of powerful novels.

This is the summer of evenings on the front porch, sitting in a battered lawn chair with a book, sipping lemonade and admiring my red geraniums as the sunset sky changes from blue to pink to gold.

ana of california book geraniums front porch

This is the summer of Harper Lee: rereading To Kill a Mockingbird (again) before picking up Go Set a Watchman, tracing the evolution of the characters I thought I knew.

This is the summer of small adventures: trying a new restaurant in our neighborhood, driving up to Maine for a long weekend, seeing the sandcastles at Revere Beach (north of Boston) and tossing a Frisbee by the water afterward.

revere beach sandcastle

This is the summer of easy cooking: tossed salads, bruschetta, chicken burritos, shredded zucchini quesadillas, soft pitas filled with chicken and tomatoes, eaten with strips of bell pepper dipped in hummus.

This is the summer of Modern Family, sitting beside J on the couch under the window, howling with laughter at Cam’s antics and Phil’s corny jokes, me imitating Gloria’s thick Colombian accent while I sympathize with type-A Claire.

This is the summer of all the stripes: dresses, skirts, T-shirts, sandal tan lines on my feet.

stripes silver flats

This is the summer of lunch at the farmers’ market, piping hot tamales made by a fellow Texan from Corpus Christi, topped with fiery salsa and eaten off a sheet of tinfoil at a table in the shade.

This is the summer of all the berries: red and blue, crimson and black, tart and sweet and juicy, eaten straight from the blue cardboard pints bought at the same farmers’ market.


This is the summer of lots of ice cream: tart fro-yo from Berryline, mint-chip gelato from the freezer at home, a batch of Ryan’s homemade vanilla ice cream in the backyard a few weeks ago.

berryline froyo sprinkles strawberries

This is the summer that marks five years in Boston – an adventure I could not have predicted, which is still in full glorious swing.

This is the summer of being awake, trying (always trying) to pay attention. To notice these hot, humid, lovely days, to be grateful for their gifts and challenges. To be brave and gentle at the same time, and to be here now.

brave stripes

What does life look like for you this summer?

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