After Labor Day, autumn stretches ahead like a country road, winding through a few glorious weeks of corn mazes and apple cobbler, home games and scenic drives. Savor a few more of the essential fall experiences that await us around this season's bend.
Bonfires Laughter fades to contented silence. The only sound is the fire, crackling until a log settles like a sigh, releasing a cloud of orange sparks into the cold night sky.High school football The familiar sounds filtering across the neighborhood mark the passing weeks. Marching band practice on foggy mornings; whistles and cracking pads on weekday afternoons; cheers on Friday nights.Ghost tours You can ride a trolley to the graveyard anytime of year nowadays, but the heebie-jeebies are a lot more fun when dry leaves skitter around crooked headstones and barren trees reach for a full moon like skeletal hands.Caramel apples We are traditionalists. Crisp fruit. Thick caramel. Peanuts (maybe). Small enough to eat on a stick without cutting slices, but big enough that the first bite requires a bit of dexterity and potentially a juicy dribble down your chin.Corn mazes Some of us grew up running along the rows on Grandpa's farm, but city-dwellers may doubt the corn's really as high as an elephant's eye. That is, until they're standing on tiptoes in the middle of a forest of rustling dry stalks, wondering which way to go.
Pumpkins Plump, petite, warty or smooth-one is never enough! How to make a pumpkin forest Our woodland scene has carved, etched and painted pumpkins (plus a few zero-effort masks). Click for free templates and instructions.
Changing leaves We've heard it (or even said it ourselves) before: "The leaves don't look so good this year. Spring was too wet. Summer was too dry." The reality is we're just impatient. Every year, the day comes when we drive home from work and discover our street alight with fiery maples and golden oaks. Fall is fleeting, yes, and a bit fickle, but nearly always as good as we remember.First day of school Nervous energy. A hug and a kiss. A box of Crayolas, waxy, pointy-tipped and ready. Empty notebooks, packed backpacks and new beginnings.Pumpkin-spiced everything Lattes, ice cream, muffins, granola, chai, beer, candles …Candy corn As marshmallow Peeps are to spring, so candy corn is to autumn. Utterly pointless wedges of sugar that we dare you to resist when they're sitting in a bowl on your coworker's desk. Guilt-free through December 1.
Fight songs Shake down the thunder, hail the victors, and plunge right through that line! Even if you mumble some of the words, count on goose bumps and instant camaraderie when the ol' song starts blaring.Harvest landscapes Something deep in our Midwest souls stirs when we see a combine rolling across a cornfield, a season's worth of hard work and watchful waiting coming to fruition, another year gone by.Trick-or-treaters As a kid, you think it's about the candy. But looking back, what sticks is the thrill of being out after dark, running from lawn to lawn with your friends, faces hidden behind painted whiskers and plastic masks, emboldened by a taste of independence even more sweet than the Snickers and Tootsie Pops weighing down your sack.
Baking Soften, sift, beat, bake, whip. It's time to indulge. Ultimate Fall Celebration Cake If you love glam desserts, check out Minnesota blogger Amanda Reteke (iambaker.net), the baking wizard behind this crazy-rich, utterly unforgettable Chocolate Pumpkin Cake. See the recipe. Watch a short video about creating this cake.
Layers Pile on the cozy sweaters, tall boots, wool jackets and snuggly scarves.Raking leaves By raking, of course, we mean jumping in the pile.5ks After a long muggy summer, fall weather can make even people who wouldn't run from a bear think about lacing up their shoes. Most autumn festivals include a fun, beginner-friendly 5K run (that's 3.1 miles to you newbies) that provides the perfect motivation to get active.Chili suppers We'll leave debates about beans to the enthusiasts, and simply say-white or red; chicken, beef or veggie-we want a pile of grated orange cheese on top. Preferably a big one.Mounds of mums Yellow, purple, magenta, bursting from pots outside the supermarket, cheerfully asking for a ride home and a spot on your stoop.Flower bulbs The squirrels have their acorns. We Midwesterners have our tulips and daffodils, buried in the fall, hidden in the frozen ground through the winter, waiting patiently for spring.