I can hardly believe it: our first year in Tennessee is almost over! Within that one year, Tennessee managed to make itself feel like home for us (that would be our third one, next to Aschaffenburg and Aachen). We have found wonderful friends, work is fun for the both of us and this admirably rebellious southern state shows us again and again, how awesome it is. The winter was somewhat cold, yet sunny and clear. Just perfect to work in our house and the kitchen. In spring we were spoiled with many warm days, which we extensively used for BBQs, gardening and hiking trips. And the summer: what more could you ask for? There was plenty of sun, parties at the lake and warm nights on the roof tops of Knoxville.
And now, towards the end of a fantastic year, it’s finally there, our favorite season: fall. I cannot wait for the calendar to show the 22nd of September. On this date is fall equinox and for me, the third season starts. Not even supermarkets decorating with pumpkins in early September can change that. However, when the day has come, there is nothing holding me back. Every German and American tradition will be honored and the parties celebrated as they come!
A wonderful opportunity to do so are the countless festivals in the German wine regions. I myself am from Lower Franconia, the home of the Bocksbeutels. I grew up with wine fairs, grape harvests, Häcken-Pubs (small pop-up wine fairs) and Federweißer (young wine) parties.
If you do not have a relation to the fermented grape juice, you may be more into scaring evil spirits with creepy or funny masks. Of course, everyone knows what I’m talking about: American Halloween, the time of year when children are yelling “Trick or Treat?” and teenagers are roaming the streets at the end of October. Somewhat similar might be the German carnival, where Narren and Jecken dress up and welcome the fifth season with Hellau and Alaaf at the beginning of November.
Thanksgiving is a more deliberate occasion. It’s celebrated with a large family gathering on the fourth Thursday in November. For Americans, the feast of gratitude has (almost) the same value as Christmas. Last year we had the chance to spend this special day with two very dear people and their family, a Thanksgiving in the classic American way. For the upcoming Holiday Season (a term for Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas and New Year), our plan is to host a great dinner for friends. If we are not drowning in absolute chaos, I will tell you about it, of course.
Even if you do not feel like celebrations, autumn provides plenty of other activities. Popular in Germany and America is the carving of pumpkins of which I have already told you in detail last year.
Another classic autumn activity is hiking. Mother Nature shows herself from the most beautiful side in fall, so you just have to go out there to see that. Another nice thing to do in the woods is searching for mushrooms. Picking these gorgeous forest residents is a whole lot of fun and a rewarding activity. However, please only collect and eat what you are able to identify and know how to process – there are some highly poisonous mushrooms out there!
For those who prefer watching sports, they can look forward to the start of the football season. It is absolutely American, and it is really popular. Anyone who is in the States during this time should go to a game of the local college once and be impressed by a sea of uniformly dressed and cheering people. Go grab a hot dog and a bucket filled with delicious popcorn and enjoy three to four hours of fun. A proof of college football’s popularity is the sheer size of the stadium of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Up to 106,000 fans celebrate the autumn spectacle!
For me autumn is garden time. During summer there was not much to do besides harvesting, watering and harvesting. Now the to do list grows again. The trees and bushes want to be cut, flower bulbs for the spring need to be hidden in the ground and a new generation of vegetables has to be planted to the raised beds. I cannot wait to get my hands dirty.
If you do not have a garden, but want to spoil yourself with seasonal treats, I recommend a visit to the local farmer’s market. In Germany, you’ll find fragrant forest mushrooms on every corner and at our Farmer’s Market here in Knoxville there are freshly picked apples, e.g. from the Mountain Meadows Farm. If you’re lucky, as we have been last year, you’ll find an invitation to a fall farm dinner on one of the surrounding Farms in the middle of the beautiful countryside and be pampered by wonderful young farmers like Christina and Brian at their Lacewing Farms.
Fall unstoppably introduces the end of the year, yet that does not mean that the gardens and fields are empty. Many products are only harvested in these three months and provide us with their yields for a long time.
I am thinking of juicy and crisp apples, which now bend down the trees branches. Also, pears are in season. I like their sweet taste, however the fruit makes it hard to be loved because there is just a really short time in which they are not too hard and not too soft. I always, I really always, miss these five minutes. As a girl from Lower Franconian I prefer grapes and their splendid end product, the wine. As we already know, it’s also the main season of wine.
If you’re into decorating your home you shouldn’t miss the wide varieties of pumpkins, the colorful leaves and the beautiful mums that make this season a feast for the senses.
In addition to field fruits there are other seasonal highlights that fall offers us: the first cold days when we can wear thick and comfy socks, cuddly sweaters and woolen beanies. Bye, bye warm season, we had a good time!
Even if the goodbye to long nights and summery evenings is difficult, I’m looking forward to savory, hearty and earthy dishes in fall, which simply aren’t the perfect fit for temperatures above 75°F. I think of pumpkin soup and freshly baked apple pie, hot apple wine and Federweißer with Flammkuchen (flatbread). After a hike in the evening with friends through the chilly forest, a festive goose meal is a wonderful thing. And what would a goose meal be without red cabbage, a dark sauce and, most important of all, bread dumplings!
There you are, you see, I have plenty of ideas from which I can draw for the next couple of weeks. I won’t tell what I have prepared for you yet, however I promise you: as always, it will be super delicious and, how could it otherwise be, wonderfully autumnal! Despite my enthusiasm and love for the third season, I have to admit that spring, summer and winter are not less special and worthwhile to look at. In order to celebrate every season, I will a new article at the astronomical beginning of each season for you. It’ll be packed with seasonal specialties, great activities, wonderful festivals and many, delicious recipes.
Ultimately, I can only say: Happy fall all y’all! Hopefully I’ll see you soon for a glass of Federweißer … or two!
PS: I am a terribly visual human being. If you’re with me, check out my fall inspiration on Pinterest – just click here: SEASON fall and follow my board for more!