One of the finest things about living in upstate New York (I know you were thinking, "I didn't imagine there were any.") is Autumn--or Fall, if you prefer. If you ask people who live around here what their favorite season is, this will be the answer 8 of 10 times. In many ways it's mine, too, except for the knowledge that Autumn--which is all too brief here, functionally running from mid-September to about mid-November, when the snowflakes usually start falling--is inevitably followed by interminable Winter. So, one feels a need to savor the season and wring from it every last particle of Fall-ness, before the brilliant colors and that spicy nip in the air turn suddenly to gray-brown and just plain icy. There are a host of ways to do that around here, from the Oktoberfest in Irondequoit that begins in mid-September (you read that right; no one knows why it isn't "Septemberfest") through umpteen fall/apple/pumpkin festivals, corn mazes, and cider presses, to the haunted/scary houses that abound locally around Halloween (we scrupulously avoid those--too scary).
This past Saturday Melany and I kicked off our observance of "Autumn in New York 2009" by attending the annual AppleUmpkin Festival in Wyoming, New York. That's a small village in the hill country southwest of Rochester, about a 45-minute drive from our home in Brockport. The trip itself is breathtaking this time of year, and yields vistas like the one below.
"Downtown" Wyoming (only 513 people live the whole community) is well known as "Gaslight Village," a quaint area lit by old-fashioned gas street lamps that are fueled by deposits of natural gas directly underground. The one-weekend festival attracts thousands of visitors to the hosts of craft, food, and other vendors whose booths crowd the main street and nearby fields, as well as to the local shops. Some of the vendors' booths are quite cleverly named!
Needless to say, there are apples and pumpkins in profusion--hence the name "AppleUmpkin."
Also noteworthy in the area are lovely gingerbread houses,
and churches dating from the early and mid-19th century.
We spent most of our time in Wyoming just strolling around, watching the other festival goers (there were almost as many dogs being pushed in strollers as babies!), and poking our heads into booths now and then. The one thought that occurred to me again and again: how blessed we all are to live in America! Where else could so many different people from so many places congregate peacefully and happily with their families and friends, in such a beautiful spot, just to enjoy their little corner of life and to share that fleeting magic time we call Autumn?
We did pick up several books for a dollar each at the local public library's used book booth (two history books for me--natch, and some craft and gardening books for Melany). I resisted the temptation to shell out $8.50 for a grape pie (the signature confection of the Finger Lakes region this time of year), which left us just enough cash to buy a beautiful fall garland for hanging in the dining room. All tuckered out, we headed back home through the countryside once again. A perfect Autumn excursion!
We hope to sally forth for more Fall adventures in the coming month, and we'll share them with you if and when we do. Till then, here's the "other" Autumn in New York--Vernon Duke’s marvelous jazz composition written for the 1934 show Thumbs Up! This version is by the incomparable Billie Holiday. I acknowledge that Lady Day (as she was called) is an acquired taste, but if you listen to her enough, you'll come to appreciate that her voice and singing style were tailor-made for jazz. Besides, this was the only rendition I could find paired with a good video of seasonal scenes in the Empire State! So sit back and enjoy all the facets of Autumn in New York!