Nature gets into some mighty peculiar shenanigans come the early sunset days.
Leaves -- every autumn, the trees turn a glorious inferno of colors before that beauty fades and falls in what must surely be a metaphor for something -- perhaps the current state of the music industry? No, no, something much less horrifying: only the end of all existence. Known as "farmer's gold," these leaves are gathered in baskets to be baked into pies. The pies are inedible, but -- ah, what colors!
Apples -- crisp and juicy, apples come in a variety of flavors:
--Naughty (buy a bushel and get a free bottle of warming personal gel!)
--F-sharp, for the synesthetes
--Elpparzo, the bizarro apple from Dimension X!
And this autumn, nature's new line of X-Treme Apple Power flavors, including Caramel Blast, Chocolate Core, Caffeine Bomb and Double Cider Punch!
Getty + photoplasty
They've already given three college students heart attacks, so it's very exciting.
There is also a Christian apple bred by Bob Jones University agriculture students as a way to enjoy the fruit's succulent juices without all that worldly favor. Although mild in taste, its rich, white flesh is very low in original sin.
Getty's not falling for that one twice, serpent
Post-Eden Apples: Ask your grocer for them by name.
Each new breed of apple must be "grafted" -- that is, a limb must be sawed off the tree and replaced with one from a serial killer. In time, this arm will take on a mind of its own, killing all who come near, but also producing the sweetest fruit.
Yep, fresh apples are a treat. Unfortunately you'll never get to try one, because the lousy things fall to the Earth and mush up before you get close enough to pick them. It's one of nature's most passive-aggressive defense mechanisms.
But the farmer, in his wisdom, has found a use for it; the rotting apples are raked into a pile so that children may jump into them and cavort and laugh and frolic, and O, what fun! These piles are then burned before the children can escape. It is nature's way. Because evolution or something.
You haven't celebrated autumn until you've tried apple-roasted suckling long pig.
These days, of course, technology has increased the harvest yield, so very few children are sacrificed to the Wood Gods.
Pumpkins -- We do some pretty weird things to pumpkins, if you think about it. No other fruit gets so many faces carved into it. For a healthy treat, roast the seeds, then spend hours spitting out their fibrous pulp. Why did we think those would be good to snack on?
Canning -- It turns out you can make jellies out of anything: cucumber, garlic, a father's disappointment in a son who cans. Well guess what, Dad: That pickle on your sandwich? A canner did that. Accept me!
Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images weeps for what it has become here
You plunder a corpse, you're bound to get a ghost.
How It Relates to Death
The inversion of the growing, thriving order thus far. This is the season of the root vegetable. Most foods fall to the Earth, go soft and rot. Squashes and roots start there, firm up, and then endure practically forever. No wonder we're always stabbing pumpkins in the face! What are roots, but food that rises from the soil like the undead? Our fall harvest is a grim fandango of falling leaves and rising zombie foodstuffs. Mummified root vegetables slumber, waiting for us to release them from their tomb. And then things get all Frankensteiny with our unnatural preservation of the softer plant life in pickling jars. OK, I'm reaching, but it's cool; I already got to make a child cannibalism joke.
Winter is coming, which means three things: good soup and bad colds.
Great job, HBO!
And this meme.
How It Relates to Death
Winter also means you'll soon be locked inside with nothing to do. Autumn games are very important, because historically speaking, they're the last memories you'll have of the children lost to measles by February. (These days, of course, your children are much likelier to outlive you, or at least live long enough for cyborg technology to turn them into ghastly mockeries of humanity.)
Either way, games and crafts remain a fun way for families to bond, if you think your children are people worth knowing. Here are a few fall projects you can try together, all but one of which are autumnally morbid.
--A wicker man. This is the perfect way to raise honey production at the end of the season, and also to rid yourself of Nicolas Cage, who, frankly, has been an awful guest. Make sure you get the appropriate permits for multistory construction, burning and disposal of Mr. Cage, who is considered a hazardous waste.
--Raising the dead. An impressive skill on college applications, but be mindful that your pentagram isn't marred, thus turning your unholy minions against you.
--Duck hunting. This will teach your children gun safety, respect for nature and cool-tempered patience when they miss the shot and that goddamn dog laughs about it. But more likely, they will try to shoot the dog.
--A scarecrow. For this project, you will need:
**A burlap sack -- the kind you use for drowning kittens
**An old coat and hat -- perhaps you could steal these from a charitable donations bin?
**Two poles lashed together -- sounds kinky
**Extra rope -- definitely kinky
**A steak -- wait, what?
**A Post-it note -- or non-Post-it brand sticky note
**Chloroform -- or substitute with your creepy knockout drug of choice
Marinate the steak in the chloroform. Cook it to medium rare, and leave it someplace where Hollywood's Cillian Murphy will see it. Nobody can resist a medium-rare steak. Murphy is a longtime vegetarian, so affix this Post-it to the plate: "Steak? More like FAKE lololololol!!!!!!!!!"
When he comes to, Murphy should find himself hanging from the crosspoles in full scarecrow regalia. Don't worry about him breaking his bonds: vegetarian, remember?
--Fall is the perfect subject for an amateurish poem! Here's a template you can use. Simply change every third adjective to "treacly," "unvivid" or "moribund."
As often do I dunkel drink, and frowns ensue,
A staggering great sadness feels me -- OOH!
Where stone upon the great helm fell
In seasons do the chilblains dwell
An' great despair whimp'ring I
That (silence) shifting: gloomy sky; (sigh)
'Ere nine and ten a month we pass;
All sorrow-Earth becomes like foie-gras
[that's goose liver!]
A woman's loin is no great respite
To we elites made sighful of this danky cesspit.
Cry mercy, shucking sheds the shrew!
And hey the world, sing nonny, do.
If then (I) giving heart (you) is false
Must (we) needs be The Great One, Frost.
Two roads are now forever splits.
--Turn a bike into a papier-mache float. Tell your children you're having a special parade in their honor, and then march them down the street. Life will teach them soon enough -- and harshly -- that they're not special. For now -- ssshh, don't spoil this moment.
And, what the hey, put 'em in a duck costume. You're only young once.
Did you know? Some countries celebrate autumn in the month of March! For centuries, people thought this was because the Southern Hemisphere had lost a bet, but the answer was both simpler and much more complex. It happens because of something called Science! Exactly how Science does this is a magical process man will never understand until we slay the Science-King and put his Crown of Electrons upon our own brow. Here -- take this sword and seek him out that ye may save our land from the Browning Tide of Foliage. I'll stay safely at home and write lyrical epics about your heroism.
Look, you don't need me to tell you that fall is a time when death rules supreme, mostly because I've already spent seven pages telling you just that. And if the nothingness beyond is the greatest horror, then embracing it makes a man strong enough that nothing can hurt him, except touching his eyes after cutting jalapenos, because OW OW OW I JUST DID THAT.
Death is the end, but fall is a reminder that it's natural, kind of beautiful and entirely cyclical. Its greatest gift of all is teaching us to accept death without becoming one of those wanky goth kids. Even its name -- fall -- is a gentle, inevitable means of coming to terms with this existence. The only sure things in this world are death and gravity, and autumn is when we're surrounded by both.
But this is not a reminder to attack life -- no no no. Why pick fights with someone bigger than you? Autumn is a reminder to finish your work, sock away provisions and then take it easy.
How It Relates to Death
The Buddha tells a parable about a man chased over a precipice by a tiger, where he dangles by a vine. Below him: another tiger, waiting for him to fall. He notices two mice nibbling on the vine. About to die, he plucks a strawberry and pops it into his mouth. How sweet it tasted! Because he hadn't eaten breakfast. But also -- it was the last sensation he would ever enjoy.
Like other commodities, life gains value with scarcity. Autumn is that glorious pause when death stalks the perimeter, and life is all the sweeter for it. So go ahead: pack on a few pounds, enjoy a day doing nothing on the couch. The end result is the same. Remember that making every moment count includes blissfully wasting a few.
Last year, Brendan dropped knowledge with 5 Facts About Thanksgiving Your History Teacher Left Out, and hey, have yourself a map of Batman's mental state.