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Out with the old and in with the new?


Autumn and History

Iler girls racing to the apple orchards.
Lately I have been fascinated with history and ancestry. As I immerse myself into the world of pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin recipes, I decided to look back into history to truly understand this beautiful season.

Autumn was and still is a time to harvest. I began to read different articles about Native American tribes and why autumn has always been sacred. According to an organization titled “Partnership with Native Americans,” different tribes have unique names for the harvest moon.

Moon of the Full Harvest, Hopi.

Harvest Moon, Passamaquoddy.

Moon where the Corn is Taken in, Pueblo.

The message however is the same. “The time when most crops were beginning to reach peak ripeness and needed to be brought in for winter or the non-growing seasons.” The article went on to say that although many tribes do not work the land as they used to for food “{autumn} still connects all of us to our ancestors and our culture, and this is something to celebrate.”

After reading that last line, I realized that is where my love for autumn has originated. . .

I think I would love to experience a true foliage season. I have been told I am a midwesterner or east coaster, or somewhere on the map where there are true seasons. Apple picking, pumpkin everything, my birthday, our wedding anniversary, the smell of apple cider, the crisp air in the mornings, decorating the house with fall leaves and the excitement of holidays. . . I love everything about this glorious season.

In recent years, autumn has become more of a marketing campaign for businesses, restaurants, and store fronts to capitalize on this time. As a fellow business owner, I understand this campaign. However, let’s dig a bit deeper. Why do you love a certain season or time of year?

I will be completely transparent. I was nervous to write this blog because I didn’t know if I had it in me to truly express one of the many roots as to why I am enamored with autumn. With my dad's passing 13 years ago, I had buried some memories.

After a few long walks and some tears, I realized I needed to share this with you. As a child, fall meant time for my dad to be in his garage, watching football on a small tv with an antennae that sometimes worked, using tools , and woodworking. Both of my parents were crafters growing up, and we would busily make holiday items and sell them at local boutiques and craft fairs. It was a busy time of year. My mom and dad would look at the latest holiday magazines and recreate these items.

My job? I sat on his swivel chair and was allowed to use the drill press and create small pumpkin figurines, gingerbread men, paint blocks, etc. I felt like the garage was a bit like Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. My dad could see a picture of any wood item and create it. He was patient and would work for hours on one piece of furniture or one doll bed until it fit his satisfaction. I loved fiddling with the random tools, digging through scrap wood, hearing the sound of the crowd cheer for a touchdown on his static TV, and getting covered in sawdust. My dad worked into the late hours of the night, creating unique pieces. My bedroom wall was adjacent to the garage wall. I would fall asleep to the hum of a power tool or saw, so he could finish his last cut for the night. It was a comforting sound that I didn’t realize how much I loved and cherished until I grew up.

Ilerwoods Fall Collection

The garage also housed all of the autumn decorations. Every year, my mom would claim that a box was missing decorations. My dad and I would laugh and climb up into the rafters and try to find the mystery box. We would spend hours decorating in the house and pretend that we lived in New England, although we lived in sunny skies, Southern California.

Apple picking at Oak Glen, Ca was another autumn tradition that I was raised with. We began this tradition when I was 4 years old. If you do the math, it’s been a long time of picking apples for me. You might think that I would want to move onto a new tradition. However, I don’t tire from this annual event. Every year, that is how I wish to celebrate my birthday. There is something to be said about picking your own fruits and vegetables, and coming home to make apple crisp or caramel apples. My children anxiously await running through the orchards, picnicing at the old school house, and window shopping by country stores.

Annual Iler family outing- trip to the apple farms.

This special tradition has been looked at over the years by a few friends as a trite activity. They truly didn't understand the allure of going into a dusty orchard and picking apples. My response to them was “I know you can buy apples from the grocery store, but this makes you appreciate apples even more.” The experience and simplicity of acknowledging that farmers have worked hard to create this plentiful harvest is why I love it. It also symbolizes years of family memories, laughter, and an anticipation of apple doughnuts that we only eat when we go apple picking.

When I met Scott 16 years ago, he told me he loved the holidays. I thought that maybe this was a campaign promise. Most people I had met really didn’t have an infinity with decorating for autumn, enjoying Thanksgiving, putting up holiday lights, and getting excited for the countdown to December 25th. However, as we began to get to know each other more, I realized he was telling the truth. He had the same excitement and infatuation with autumn as I do. When I asked him why he loved the holidays so much, he explained all of the great family memories he had as a child around this time of year.

Scott and Erin Iler- 16 years ago. . . under an apple tree

Years later, both of our dads have passed away but the traditions are still there.

Full circle. When I can’t find my daughters, they are out in the garage with Scott, tinkering with some of his tools, watching him as he hand crafts his wood pieces, and lingering past their bedtime to help with a project.

I think if the garage doors could talk to each other they would find a lot of similarities between Acacia and Avocado. Two dads working with their daughters to craft fine projects and hone special family memories. I now know why I truly love autumn. It’s the celebration of the old and the new. It is the harvest we created this year and the harvest we can remember 40 years ago.

Which season speaks to you the most? I wonder if the memories are what help make it so magical.

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