Fall and Autumn

In New Zealand the season before winter is called autumn and I recall . learning the Keats poem Ode to Autumn at high school. When I moved to Canada, I had to get used to using the FALL word as people looked at me a little strangely if I said autumn.

Autumn in New Zealand didn’t have the same visual impact as fall did in Canada. The most impressive sight in our area was a row of poplar trees along the riverbank just outside my hometown. When the leaves turned gold, the trees were greatly admired. Non native trees like willows simply lost their leaves until the spring arrived. Native trees like the bush did not lose their leaves and our hillsides stayed green all year round.

I was not prepared for the vivid colours of the trees and bushes in my new country. The first fall was a delight with all the shades of orange, red and gold in the foliage around me and this was in Southern Ontario and not in the north when there were so many more trees. Not so delightful was the task of raking up the leaves on our property. It took days to collect them all and move them to the side of the road where the town’s vacuum tucks sucked them up/ We had to time it right or piles of soggy leaves would stay at the verge until the following spring.

With the arrival of fall came the celebration of Halloween. Today some kids in New Zealand go trick and treating but when I was young it was looked on as an alien American custom. I was unprepared for costume making and candy buying. When my kids went out for their first trick and treating with my husband, I stayed home to hand out the candy. I had completely underestimated the numbers of children in our area and when my stock ran out I had to rob my own kids of their treats. Luckily they were too young to realize they had been burgled. Years later my son told me that when he was at university his flat mates had eaten all their purchased candy and he was reduced to handing out slices of bread to bewildered kids on his doorstep.

I guess it does not really matter whether you call the season autumn or fall. It still marks the end of hot summer weather and the approach of cold winter days and nights. .