So, barring the fact that my eyes are so itchy from pollen and swollen from being up late with a screaming 5 month-old I can barely see out of them to type, I. am. determined. to. be. positive. Especially in this post.
The harvest season.
Or, as I like to refer to it: the most wonderful time of the year.
I adore Fall. Maybe it’s its incandescence–its fleeting nature–that makes it so special. It’s only here for a heartbeat–the falling leaves, the crisp air, the crystalline blue skies, the silver morning fog, the vibrant colors laid like a wizard’s cloak over the mountains. The football.
But I love it. I’m swept up when it’s here and sad when it’s gone. If you ask my husband, he’d tell you that I like to over-commit to Fall. I plan an abundance of activities, including–but not limited to–hot chocolate and S’Mores in the backyard fire pit with friends, hiking above the Blue Ridge Parkway with friends, walking to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning, popping by the bakery, going to the pumpkin patch, taking mini road trip through the mountains to tiny mountain towns nearby, piling up leaves and letting the kids and their friends (and our dog, Scout) jump in them, watching “Fall movies,” decorating our house for Halloween and then Thanksgiving, and oh so many more. Oops. I forgot football.
I sort of have a Fall fetish. But Fall and I understand each other. We’re there for each other. We are kindred spirits, the Fall and I.
So, in celebration of my favorite time of year, here are 7 Things to Share/Love/Do this Fall:
1.) Hike up along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
If you don’t live near enough to get to the Blue Ridge Parkway, I am terribly sorry. It’s an incredible place, especially in the Pisgah National Forest section of North Carolina. Just last Saturday we headed out with friends and hiked with our kids up to the Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower, then picnicked afterward at the Shut-In Trail overlook. Fryingpan is a great little hike to do with kids (ours were 4 years-old, 3 years-old and 5 months old, respectively) that ends with a big bonus. You can hike up to the tower, but the trap door to get up to the big viewing area is currently latched–due, I’m guessing, to the government shutdown. That being said, you can still hike up almost to the top and see out of the gorgeous Blue Ridge.
The leaves weren’t changing too much yet, but it’s already been a week and the leaf-changing moves fast at this elevation. I’m guessing there’ll be a lot more color this weekend, and certainly by next weekend. Here are some shots of the view from the lookout tower:
There are hundreds of miles of trails in the Pisgah National Forest, with a variety of elevations, and many are still open despite the shutdown. Just Google “Fall hikes in Pisgah National Forest, NC” and see what happens.
We’re lucky: we’ve got a farmer’s market we can walk to right in our town–the Transylvania Farmer’s Market. Packed with wares from local farms including hormone-free beef and chicken, honey, eggs, vegetables, fruit (apples!), goods made by local artisans (jewelry, wood art, furniture, fabric arts and more), and serenaded by local pickers, it’s the place to be on Saturday mornings. At least until it gets too cold to do anything round these parts. (Psst: lots of farmers and tailgate markets are open past the harvest season–ours is open through December.)
3.) Pick up a new book
Chilly Fall nights are the perfect time to snuggle in bed with a good book. Lately, I’ve been rereading some old favorites. But here are a few on my radar to checkout:
The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (historical fiction set on the 19th century Gulf coast)
A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver (poems by the Pulizter Prize-winner about life on the Massachusetts coast)
Strong Enough to Die by Jon Landis (a thriller starring 5th generation femaleTexas Ranger Caitlin Strong)
Shake Down the Stars by Renee Swindle (a tale of love, loss and the human spirit)
The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler (debut novel about a woman who finds answers in a quirky little bookstore)
And anything by Alice Munro, who just won the Nobel Prize in Literature!
4.) Watch an Autumn-themed movie or TV show; or heck, anything that makes you think about Fall
My favorites, the stuff I watch over and over each year, are the movie Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, and the TV series Gilmore Girls. Runaway Bride is set in a small town in rural Maryland, and the scenery is gorgeous–Fall colors and small-town charm everywhere you look. Gilmore Girls is set in small-town Connecticut (the town, Stars Hollow, hosts a festival every chance it gets) and is filled with a quirky bunch of townsfolk with whom you’ll fall quickly in love. Pour yourself a cup of hot cider, grab a warm quilt and prepare to stay awhile.
5.) Speaking of cider …
Any hot Fall drink will do. Around football season, we like to spike ours with Bourbon. Every general store is selling cider right now, and the spicier the better. If you like hot chocolate, try whipping up some of your own. My Grandmama Scottie used to make the most mouth-wateringly delicious homemade hot chocolate in a pan on her stove. Nothing’s better than homemade.
Here are a couple of my favorite recipes:
WARM CITRUS CIDER (from Southern Living magazine)
1 gallon apple cider
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
Bring the above to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.
Garnish with an apple slice and serve hot!
Makes 4 1/2 qt.
Total time: 25 minutes
2 cups milk
2 cups half & half
1 cup Good Semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Combine milk and half & half in small saucepan.
Warm over medium-low, then stir in chocolate chips.
Stir until melted.
Add more milk and chocolate chips as needed to taste.
Add sugar if you need more shugah.
The Pioneer Woman suggested dropping a couple of peppermint patties into each mug for an extra special kick.
Serve with whipped cream!
6.) Listen to live music
There’s all kinds of live music around Western North Carolina any night of the week, and I bet if you check, it’s available in your town, too! Tonight, my family’s headed to Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard to listen to our friend Bradley Carter of Sanctum Sully pick and sing!
Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.” So wherever you are this Fall, enjoy your home. Find a pretty spot and share it with the ones you love. I know I will.