It’s been a busy week. I had a short story published (Swallowing Memories) and a character interview with Royce Keller of Type and Cross went live on a multi-national site. You can check them both out by clicking on the links.
But it hasn’t just been a great week. It’s a wonderful time of year. Just this week alone saw the beginning of autumn, the start of Oktoberfest, and for me, the second week of visits from family.
Fall is my favorite time of year. The oppressive heat of summer gives way to the warm days and cool nights of autumn. Football starts. Hockey is right on its heels. Tennis is much more bearable. Pumpkins and gourds abound, and lighter fare is exchanged for soups, stews, and mulled ciders. We can retire the t-shirts and break out the sweaters. Leaves change and color the landscape with brilliant reds and fiery oranges. Who doesn’t love enjoying the day and then snuggling up at night? Yes, fall began this week, and I was happy to welcome it.
Oktoberfest also began this week. Being that my father’s family hails from Germany, this is a holiday I try to embrace and celebrate with my family. But it’s September, you say. It can’t be Oktoberfest. Well, sorry; you’re wrong.
The first Oktoberfest was in October. It was a celebration of a royal wedding. The tradition of a large party continued, but the start date has been moved to late September so the weather would be more agreeable. Oktoberfest still ends in October, though. The festivities in Germany are large and joyous, and ironically, not called Oktoberfest at all. The locals simply call it Wisen because of the fairgrounds, or large fields, where the tents are set up (Theresienwiese).
Traditional Oktoberfest celebrations include rides, games, a lot of beer (only six breweries are approved to sell beer at the Wisen), and huge quantities of German food. Attendants can feast on “traditional food such as Hendl (roast chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezen (pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Käsespätzle (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Rotkohl/Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).”
As for my family? From now through October 5, we’ll be eating some of that traditional fare. The kids won’t get any beer, but we’ll all eat bratwurst, potato pancakes, schnitzel, and strudel. What can I say? I’m mostly Italian; we connect with our roots—as well as our loved ones—through food.
And speaking of loved ones, I’m coming to the end of two weeks of family visits. Our family is 1000 miles from here, and we don’t get to see them often. Both sets of grandparents wanted to see the kids perform in their fall sports, so both sets came down here, one right after the other. It was wonderful seeing them again, but it would have been nice if the visits could have been spaced out instead of back-to-back. Still, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. Of course we ate family favorites (everyone should experience my mother-in-law’s famous apple pie), played games, went to see the kids in tennis and football, but mostly just enjoyed the time together talking, reminiscing, laughing. These memories are the ones we’ll carry with us.
There are a lot of holidays and events to mark in autumn. Have you considered incorporating seasonal activities into your WIPs to enrich them? It’s the details that bring fiction to life. Sure, you can say, “It was autumn in Pittsburgh.” But isn’t it much better to describe the crisp air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the end of the baseball season and the start of football and hockey? You never have to mention the time of year at all if the details bring the setting to life. And your writing will be stronger for it.
I don’t know if you see family often or almost never, like us. But I do hope you enjoy them while you can. Maybe you can use the new season and current activities to rekindle an old family tradition or add a new one. Let’s talk about autumn and family. Leave a comment below.