Autumn. Smell the pumpkin and ripe apples and decaying leaves and wood smoke. Late September through Thanksgiving in New England offer vibrancy with the fourth sense fully engaged in the game of being alive. I could live in many places in the world, but these crisp nine weeks are when I appreciate living in New Hampshire most.

Autumn. Blue jeans and long sleeves, the heat radiating through a mug warming your hands, wiping dew off the chair before sitting down in the backyard writing chair. Blankets pressing you down into the mattress like you’re a panini. Socks. The days grow shorter and cooler, and the wardrobe changes with the tilt of the earth. We’ve been here before, and we grow reacquainted once again with fabric on our extremities. The dance with Autumn inevitably means literally feeling her on your skin.

Autumn. Yellow and red waves sweep first over the highlands and wetlands, moving southward and finally capturing the strongest holdouts in between. Northern vistas so stunning you can’t help but stare, and apologize profusely for being so rude. I confess my productivity decreases when I travel to Vermont or northern New Hampshire. Like stained glass in a church, the leaves demand your attention.

Autumn. Sweetness of apples and the omnipresent pumpkin spice. Last of the harvest turned to cider and preserves. Lighter summer fare giving way to richer dishes that warm you inside out. If you haven’t lost those few extra pounds by now you face an uphill battle as caloric intake holds the advantage. Baked goods take the place of salads, rum gives way to scotch, soups and stews and casseroles tempt and delight. The scale be damned.

Autumn. The fading crickets song grows sadder while the crows caw grows bolder. Soon the red-winged blackbirds and other transients fill the trees with a cacophony of excited conversation. The hiss and pop of an outdoor fire. And always, a playlist of standards for Autumn. There’s a soundtrack for every season, and Autumn is when my playlists grow reflective.  In the spirit of the senses, I’ll limit myself to five standards that set the tone for Autumn in New Hampshire:

Philosophers Stone by Van Morrison (King of Autumn music)

The Long Day is Over by Nora Jones

I Was Brought to My Senses by Sting

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Shelby Lynne (sorry Dusty)

Deacon Blues by Steely Dan