“October was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths.
Anne reveled in the world of color about her.
‘Oh, Marilla,’ she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, ‘I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.'” L. M. Montgomery, ‘Anne of Green Gables’.
I always loved traditional stories as a child; Laura Inglis Wilder and Louisa May Alcott transported me to the prairies of the Midwest and the woods of New England respectively, on adventures with Laura and Jo through the seasons. I’m finding great comfort in re-reading homely stories in these uncertain times – and though there are problematic elements that have not aged well in these books not least with regards to race and gender (that’s a whole other post) the importance of home and hearth, of love and learning remain timeless. The homespun crafts and simple pleasures of such stories have inspired my own recent makes and bakes, especially in the Autumn. Anne of Green Gables’ words echo in my ears every October: her attempt to halt the ephemeral, to preserve the beauty of nature’s bounty and relish the turn of the year.
My preserved Autumn leaves may not last forever – and are all the more precious for it – but are a great way to bring the outside, inside, for a little longer at least. First and foremost, the joy is in collecting the most beautiful Autumn leaves you can find on a mindful nature walk. Then I clean any dirt from the leaves, dry and press them underneath heavy books for at least 24 hours. Then they’re ready to craft with as you please – I used copper washi tape to secure them to the window, arranging them in a pattern of different sizes, colours and shapes and securing them top and bottom. If you want your leaves to last a little longer then after pressing them you can coat them with a fine layer of ‘mod podge’ or any other clear-drying sealer. PVA would work too! This is what I did last year with my leaf garland, simply leave them to dry for a few hours and peg to a piece of twine for an easy Autumn display of preserved leaves.
Have you tried preserving leaves before? What’s bringing you comfort in these uncertain times?