Celebrating Fall

My sister and I cooked up quarts of applesauce Friday morning from outstanding Paonia apples. We have learned, over the years, the best sauce, is a combination of different types of apples. This year we used three of my favorites, Honey Crisp, Jonathan, and Gala. A bit of sugar and plenty of cinnamon mixed into the sauce, then poured into jars,wipe the lids, screw on the caps, water bathed, cooled, checked for good seals, and the beautiful pink sauce now lines my pantry shelf for the winter that is coming.

What a huge sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and contentment to complete this activity.

My sister and I, usually with some children to help (not this year though) have made this applesauce-making day a family tradition we look forward to every Fall. Normally we aim for the last week end of September or the first weekend of October so we can also enjoy what is known in these parts as Color Sunday.

Color Sunday is “officially” designated as the last two week ends of September when the Aspen trees are at the peak of their golden, yellow brilliance. About a 45 minute drive from here is actually the world’s largest Aspen grove all in one place. Behind the gorgeous and colorful trees are the tall mountains of Mount Gunnison and Mount Beckwith, both are in the 13,000 to 14,000 feet in elevation range.

This year, my friends from Denver, Mary and Atif joined my sister and I for Paonia’s annual Mountain Harvest Festival. This includes, farm tours, wine tastings, a chili cook off, an evening of concerts for one small price at several different venues, brunch in the park Sunday morning, craft fairs, fabulous weather and a farmer’s market. Although this little tradition, The Mountain Harvest Festival, was established a few years after our family moving to the western slope of Colorado, I skipped it last year as the loss of Duane was too fresh for me to consider attending any of the events.

The one thing I hadn’t counted on this year, however, is these particular friends are almost the only ones I have NOT seen since the Memorial Service. They found themselves struggling with driving over here knowing Duane wouldn’t be here. What will it be like for them? Nearly 18 months since Duane’s passing, truthfully I hadn’t even considered that this might be a bit hard for all of us.

After all, these special friends had assisted Duane and I with our semi-annual grain sale for 15 years always followed my a family dinner in a restaurant. There were so many wonderful memories, now over. After spending some time at Duane’s grave side Saturday morning, I think we were all able to take one more step towards acceptance and closure and then move on enjoying every minute of the entire week end together. Memories we will never forget of just being together.

I truly praise God for how far he has brought me in the last year and a half that I really could just savor and enjoy the company of my friends and the new fun- time traditions we started this year by spending the evenings around the campfire. I am a widow, a single mom, beginning to see that God is healing my broken heart, starting new things in my life and that he truly is faithful to have plans for me, plans for welfare, not for evil, to give me a future and a hope.

May you and your family enjoy God’s goodness during our Fall season of harvest, warm days and cool nights. I encourage you to take the time to enjoy harvest events, putting away the last of the garden produce into the freezer or canning up the remaining tomatoes. Savor every moment, find the good and the positive in all things and you will begin to experience a contentment you didn’t know could exist.

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