This past week, my friend Asher from Room 3 chided me about having “Halloween” decorations displayed when I should be displaying decorations for winter. He was talking about the pumpkin and squash window “jells” that were originally arranged on the light table but had been applied to the windows of the Art Cottage.
I laughed and said that they were not Halloween decorations they were “fall” decorations. I was continuing to enjoy the season that would not officially end for another few weeks. He seemed to be content with that answer. You see, this is my favorite time of the year. I love to celebrate the traditional concepts of fall such as the harvest, the changing leaves and even in San Diego -the cooler weather.
While growing up (mostly) in San Diego, about the only indicator that there was a change of season occurring during late September and October was the Santa Ana winds. These hot, dry winds kept our un-air conditioned classrooms sweltering. I never experienced “classic” fall weather until I moved to Iowa where I lived for three years in the mid-1970s. It was during this period in my life, that I fell in love with the cool weather and beautiful changing leaves of autumn. Since moving back to San Diego (after some time spent in Los Angeles) I noticed something new and different in the landscape. Several new species of trees had been planted all over town that signaled a change of seasons even here in our year-round mild climate. There are two that are very special to me. The first one is the jacaranda that showers us with beautiful purple blossoms in the late spring and early summer. The second one is the liquidamber. We at Hanna are very fortunate that several of these beautiful trees reside just down the street.
I consider these beautiful deciduous trees my friends. I walk by them every day and greet them and note the changes from spring when the flowers bloom and tiny green leaves unfurl, to summer where the tree provide a full canopy of luxurious shade, to fall when the brightly colored leaves start to drop, to winter, when the trees hold the promise of spring. But the best time, the most beautiful time is fall. The liquidamber has the classic range of color seen in maple trees.
I gather the fallen leaves up and create bouquets as beautiful as any flower. I bring them to the children and we celebrate the beauty and mystery of fall by exploring the colors and shapes. Pretty soon, they notice the changing color in the leaves of the trees that line our back fence. Several children have picked up a vivid red or yellow leaf they have found on the ground and bring it to me shouting, “Look Francie! Look!” (I don’t know the name of these wonderful trees. I have a friend who is a landscape architect who will know. I keep forgetting to ask.)
Besides exploring the colors using different mediums such as tempera, oil pastels, watercolors and watercolor pencils I have shared several books that offer a whimsical, imaginative interpretation of fall. One is called Wild Child by Lynn Plourde and the other is Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. I love these books!
We are also continuing to enjoy the pumpkins. This week several children discovered the seeds inside the pumpkins and one child knew that they could be planted. While pumpkins are a warm season plant, hopefully, we will at least observe them sprouting. I am saving some of the seeds to plant in the spring.
In the coming week, I will be bringing in my digital magnifier and we will take a closer look at the structure of the leaves. I’m hoping to use the leaves in a collaborative art piece to accompany the summer piece we did during Camp Hanna. Perhaps a piece inspired by the work by artist Andy Goldsworthy. (The photo displayed below is from Goldsworthy’s book, Wood.)
So along with our glorious pumpkins, we continue to celebrate this wonderful time of beauty and bounty. As far as winter is concerned, Asher will be the first child I will be consulting with to find out where to start our investigation.