Use the five senses to make this autumn amazing

The five senses: sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch.

We most fully experience a thing when we can engage the senses. How do we do it in our home?

Beatus Autumnus banner
Please note: we got our Latin wrong

First, sight.

When fall officially begins, I bring out a string of handmade bunting from orange linen-look fabric purchased at Rainbow Fabrics at 751 N Golden State Blvd in Turlock. I cut the fabric into triangles, did a simple stitch with a sewing machine along the edges so it would not fray past a certain point and used graphite paper and computer print outs to trace the world “Beatus Autumnus,” Latin words for “Blessed Autumn.” I colored the letters in with permanent marker and hot glued the letters to a stretch of baking twice. It’s an official moment in the house when the banner comes out.

I also add a piece of art and replace a piece of artwork with “Halloween Ride” by Patricia Palmerino and “Marshmallows and ghost stories” by Katherine Blower. We purchased the first at the Farmer’s Market in Alexandria, VA, when attending it was part of life lived in Virginia and the second on Society6. 

Autumnal blankets in tans, indigo blues and oranges come out, along with new pillow colors in the same autumnal hues. I filled my Heath Ceramics vases, purchased online, with tied bunches dried straw flowers, thistle, bunny tails ornament grass, and dried yarrow, and set them on the fireplace mantle. 

Dried flowers with Heath Ceramics vases

Second, smell.

I recently returned to my adolescent love of scented candles. Buy them and burn them. I’m starting with Apple Harvest from Trader Joe’s first and will move to “Manhattan” from Crate and Barrel and then settle on the warm scents of candles purchased at Vintage Market at 210 East Main Street in Turlock.

Third, taste.

You know it. I know it. So I’ll just admit it. It’s pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice in homemade lattes, pumpkin spice sprinkles on apples picked at a neighbor’s orchard in a red casserole dish. Apple crisp, apply crumble, apple pie. In one month my children will be so tired of apples, but they do not know that now. The baking provides the fall aroma, the baskets and compotes filled with apples around the kitchen and dining room offer one more visual aid. I was one day too early to purchase Trader Joe’s Spiced Apple Cider but it is 100% worth it. If you are a cocktail drinker, try this mixed with Fireball and Brandy for a drink we call a “Hot Autumn Evening.”

Green apples in a wire basket

Fourth, sound.

It goes simply for us. The children and I sing the song from Disney’s “Johnny Appleseed” and a German folk song, “Autumn Leaves are a-falling”. I haven’t a set playlist, but I am certainly working on one for All Soul’s Day and the rest of November. 

And lastly, touch.

The cozy textures, wearing long sleeves and long pants and long pajamas, wrapping up in a robe or blanket early in the morning, cross legged on the couch, shivering against the breeze blowing through the open windows. 

Thirfted blanket, handmade pillow and West Elm velvet pillow

Wherever activities fall in this lineup of sensory experiences, they probably capture it all.

We hope to wander a corn maze, pick more apples, drink apple cider, read The Pumpkin Runner, The Ox-Cart Man, Room on a Broom, Too Many Pumpkins, and A Thanksgiving Story.

My husband and I watch the 1930s horror movie classics like Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We may sprinkle in some Hitchcock and new films like Coraline and Corpse Bride. The kids will make it through “It’s the Great Pumpkin Halloween.”

We serve a dinner with pork chops, butternut squash soup, homemade bread, with apple cobbler and acorn squash ice cream for dessert. We listen to music outdoors and enjoy the cool evenings we thought never would come. 

It’s the littlest moments and littlest touches that make this season something wonderful in our household. We engage the senses. They are thirteen years in the making. New traditions emerge, old traditions adapt, some years a particular one is skipped altogether. But no matter, they still make fall what it is for us, a thing of beauty, gratitude for the harvest and delight.