Friday, September 14, 2012

18 Great Ways to Celebrate the Fall ...

I know we aren't quite there yet, technically, but the past week has been so beautifully sunny and the air so cool in the early mornings and evenings, and the leaves so amazingly beautiful that I couldn't resist writing this post just a little ahead of the equinox.

As you will know if you've been reading this blog for a while, this is my favourite time of year and I like to be as mindful and intentional as possible about drinking it all in before we pass into the deeper hues of winter.

Here are a few of my favourite ideas for celebrating the fun and beauty of the fall:

1.  Collect coloured leaves as you walk along your favourite paths and bring them home to create colourful bouquets, to press as keepsakes of a happy day, or to paste on blank cards from the hobby shop to make your own personal greeting cards.

2.  Make two big pots of soup - squash, borscht, tomato-basil, lentil, carrot and ginger, and potato leek are wonderful at this time of year - and invite your favourite people to share a simple reconnecting dinner after the scattered days of summer. Serve your soup with whole grain rolls, green salad, and fresh cookies from your favourite healthy bakery and you have a delicious yet simple meal for sharing with friends. (Better still, make the soup yourself then ask each family to contribute one other course.)

3.  Find a great non-work book and snuggle up by the fire with a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate. I've been reading a classic novel, Neville Shute's, Round the Bend, and it's been wonderful to escape into a story of places so far away, written so long ago. Some good autumn-oriented titles include I'm A Stranger Here Myself: My Notes on Returning to America by Bill Bryson, Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing From Around the World by Mark Kurlansky, Good Grief by Lolly Winston, A Season for Miracles by Rusty Whitener, Soup by Williams-Sonoma. 

4.  Make a fall container for your doorstep or a cinnamon scented pine cone garland for your fireplace.

5.  Take your family or friends on a bike hike. Plan a route and pace that's comfortable for the least experienced person in the group and stop often to take in the scenery. Finish before anyone becomes too hungry or tired. Perhaps plan a route past a favourite cafe or picnic spot or farmers market. And don't forget your helmets.

6.  Go and pick apples at a nearby orchard farm then come home and make applesauce for the freezer and baked apples for the pickers!

7.  Hold an Equinox celebration. Historically, a fall equinox celebration was held to give thanks to the gods for the bounty of the harvest. Even if you're not a farmer, you could hold a modern gathering with friends. Hold the celebration within the context of your own faith tradition. Light a candle. Invite family and friends to write something they're thankful for on a slip of paper and place the papers in a bowl. Form a thanks-giving circle around the candle. Sing a few autumn-themed songs then give thanks for:

  • your home, finances, and health,
  • the knowledge you've gained,
  • the successes in your career, and
  • your spiritual growth and development over the past year.          

Read a blessing or a short story for the fall, sing some more appropriate songs and, afterwards, read the thanksgivings from the bowl while sharing some pumpkin pie and mulled cider or apple juice by the fire.

8.  Take your kids (or borrow some) and make a visit to the local pumpkin patch. Choose a pumpkin and make a jack o'lantern and pumpkin muffins.

9.  Visit a favourite yarn shop and browse through the beautiful yarns and patterns until you find exactly the right project for the long winter evenings ahead. Or try going to your closest lumber yard for just the right piece of wood to carve.

10. Go to a fall fair with your partner or your best friend. It's a great way to sample delicious organic produce and to do a little shopping ahead for the holidays. Buy some unfamiliar, in-season produce and learn how to cook it.

11.  Go to your local coffee shop and buy a pumpkin spice latte to enjoy outside while you look at the leaves. Or make your own at home.

12.  Put your garden to bed, thanking it for its abundance.  Plant daffodil and tulip bulbs in the garden or in containers, full of hope for the spring.

13.  Take a walk with your camera early on a brisk autumn morning and take pictures of spider webs covered in dew or frost as the sun comes up.

14.  Do some reflective writing in your journal. What are your favourite things about autumn? Write about them in detail. If you don't like the fall, write about why. Go outside and notice exquisite details about nature in the fall - write some haiku to capture the moments. Write about things for which you're thankful. Write about how you feel about the changing seasons, or about the changing seasons of life. Write about the impact of fall colours on your mood.Write about one of the five senses related to your autumn experience (the smells, sights, sounds, touch, tastes of autumn). Write about your favourite fall memory. Ask what you might like to take from the slow days of summer into the fall.

15.  Visit an older or shut-in relative or friend - or a new Mom or a family caregiver - with homemade jams or preserves or some fresh produce from the market. (Fresh fruit and vegetables are often beyond the means of those on fixed incomes.) Plan your day so you're not rushed and have the time for a good visit or for a short trip out for lunch or tea. (Provided the one you're visiting has the energy).

16.  Offer to do some yard work for someone who is not able to manage it themselves.

17.  Give some of your garden produce to the food bank.

18.  Take a fall vacation. The rates are cheaper, the sights are less crowded and the weather is usually great.

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