Gourds -- bennett campbell.jpg

Apple tree -- bennett campbell.jpg

Cider Donuts -- bennett campbell.jpg

Autumn Lake -- bennett campbell.jpg

View -- Bennett Campbell.jpg

Picnic in the woods --bennett campbell.jpg

Picnic in the woods --bennett campbell.jpg

Jack O'lantern -- Bennett Campbell.jpg

Apples -- Bennett Campbell.jpg

Apple Picking -- Bennett Cambell.jpg

Pumpkins -- Bennett Campbell.jpg

A visual ode to autumn

jack o'lantern sm bennett.jpg

Autumn in New York is a treat.

By Bennett Campbell

soapbox badgeMaybe it has to do with being born in October, but fall has always been a special season to me. In the span of just a few weeks our environment undergoes profound change, and with it my spirit.

Fall days are inescapably tinged with the expectation of winter. It instills a kind of fear in me, a fear of passing time, urging me to finish the year's forgotten plans. The untaken day trips, the long and intimately boozy nights with friends, the mornings awoken in the wilderness, that last outdoor picnic, the lazy afternoon flânerie.

Yet whether or not I accomplish any of it, year after year I swim happily and languidly through the fall, landing contentedly in winter and ready for the respite that harshest of seasons brings.

Pumpkins -- Bennett Campbell.jpg

Again, I may be biased. Having been born in Pennsylvania and spending a childhood in Michigan before being transplanted to New York, I've never lived anywhere that doesn't have fall. It's in my blood. But in my experience, Upstate New York's fall is something special -- unrivaled due to our state parks, our cities nestled amongst farmland, our hungry appetite.

Cider Donuts -- bennett campbell.jpg

Apples -- Bennett Campbell.jpg

Inexplicably, I'm drawn to water in the fall. Sure, humid summer days all but require somewhere to take a plunge, that makes sense. Nobody really wants to go swimming in November, yet I'm pulled to walk the Hudson or stand on the shores of any of our dozens of lakes and ponds.

Autumn Lake -- bennett campbell.jpg

Picnic in the woods --bennett campbell.jpg

My good friend Sebastien has made it a yearly ritual to take the Sagamore cruise on Lake George at the end of summer, and it's invariably cold and windy. Yet we order frozen drinks and stand at the railing on the upper deck, shivering while watching the low slung sun gently light up the changing colors of the trees.

Fall transforms landmarks. The Livingston Avenue Bridge becomes part of nature's display, the rust-colored trellis complementing the warm, earthy hues of the leaves. Walking under it along the Corning Preserve brings the splendor of fall's Hudson-reflected colors into full view. Washington Park transforms first by changing colors, and then by shedding leaves, opening up the landscape and fully exposing it to the surrounding urbanity.

Washington Park Bridge - Autumn -Bennet Campbell.jpg

A drive north to the Adirondacks brings changing season into sharp focus, if you time it just right - fall is all about timing. Hiking up a high peak gives a taste of winter, welcome only because it can be quickly escaped.

View -- Bennett Campbell.jpg

Apple tree -- bennett campbell.jpg

Most importantly, fall is the food season. Summer is for grilling; fall is when I hit the kitchen. Ever since I was ten or so, my Thanksgiving job was making the pumpkin pies. Back then it didn't involve much more than opening a few cans, but I never skipped a year and a couple decades later I start from scratch, roasting pumpkins and adding my own special blend of sugar and spice. Maybe in another ten years I'll finally master pie crust.

Fall farmers markets burst with brilliant squashes and root vegetables, apple picking comes into its own including the requisite cider donuts (does anywhere do them as well as upstate New York?), smells of roasting vegetables, chicken, and duck pour out of the oven, and the cooler weather heralds a return to warming whiskey and brandy drinks. If for no other reason, I love fall for truly being the harvest season, from cranberries to rutabaga and everything in between.

Gourds -- bennett campbell.jpg

Apple Picking -- Bennett Cambell.jpg

This fall, drive one of our many Route 9's and enjoy the show. Take someone's hand and walk around the Washington Park lake. Soak in the entire grand sweep from Thacher Park. Visit the farmers market and cook something for a handful of friends. Have one last patio drink in defiance of the approaching bitter cold. Whatever you do, do it now, because while we wait all summer for fall, fall will not wait for us.

Bennett chronicles his adventures -- autumnal or otherwise -- at his blog, Photo This.

Comments

Thank you for this lovely and moving piece. I smiled at many photos. And, just now I heard geese honking overhead!

B- I love this. I'm definitely going to miss autumn this year in California. I still have fond memories of that perfect fall day when all of us hiked at Kaaterskill Falls and then stocked up on fall goodies at the farmers' market. And you saved me from falling of the side of the cliff! By grabbing my ear!

Fall is also my favorite time of year. I love the crisp air, the crunchy leaves, the colors, the smells. ♥ ♥ ♥

Bennett,

This is by far my favorite piece as it evokes many familiar feelings about Autumn. Good job! and I love the pics as well as the sentiments.
Thanks! :)

Lisa

Love the photos of Autumn!!....We just got some honeycrisp apples and your photo'sof the roasted pumpkins inspire me to cook something pumpkiny! (If there is such a word!) Beautiful words and capture of what fall entails.....Thanks for sharing!

wow. love this.

There really is nothing better than the first truly autumn day when you're able to completely wrap yourself in that favorite pair of jeans and your most comfortable sweater, take a deep breath of the crisp air, and remember how awesome it is to be alive. A bag of apple cider doughnuts never hurts, either.

Also, that pumpkin shell bowl: completely awesome!

Thanks for letting me indulge myself, folks.

Glad you enjoy it. Enjoy the season too :)

Beautifully written! I too love the fall! My b-day is also in October (barely) but the fall brings so many other great things that that is only one thing to love about it. Your pictures capture what fall means in NY in a way that words almost cannot explain.

What did you do with that pumpkin that has the seeds scattered around it ? I love cooking with pumpkins.

Lauren, that's a pretty basic squash soup, I got lucky with the pumpkin shell; I did a writeup of that.

Fall is wonderful. I met my talented boyfriend in the fall...cooking with apples and squash and picking raspberries. And being patient while he takes photos of things like pumpkin soup served in the shell when all I want to do is eat it. Nice work and beautifully written, B!

Oh, memories! Beautifully written, as usual, Ben!

Gorgeous photos! Where was the Adirondack shot taken?

Ellen, that's from Hurricane Mountain, not a high peak but it does have a fire tower (sadly defunct), a great 360-degree view, and is a pleasant hike.

Thanks, Bennett. I've hiked up Hurricane many times. I thought it looked familiar!

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