By Rachel Benoit
Fall is my favorite time of year. The weather is not too hot, not too cold…it’s just about right. My only wish is that it would last longer, since the New England climate too often seems to pass right by fall and leaps into winter. My advice is, enjoy the fall season while you can! Here is my list of top 5 must-do fall activities:
1. Watch Football
Yes, that’s right. Watch out girls, because your significant other is about become completely preoccupied with some guys in tight pants and a pigskin ball. If you are like me, you are right there with them enjoying the action…and sometimes yelling at the t.v. or engaging in the sacred pre-game rituals to get a win for your team (hey-it’s only weird if it doesn’t work). If you’re not convinced, I recommend watching a game with other people in a social environment. Sports bars are usually a really good time, but a gathering between friends on a Sunday can be just as fun. The atmosphere can get intense and pretty exciting, and you can be involved without paying attention to the game. Although a word of advice to the girl whose boyfriend is a fan of the sport: shooting off random football stats usually gets you brownie points (just don’t tell him the t.v. said it first and you were just repeating it, he will be more impressed if he thinks you just knew it off the top of your head).
2. Celebrate Halloween
When I was little, Halloween was a big deal. The goal: candy. After years of experience, I knew the busiest streets and the most generous neighborhoods (avoid the grown-ups who were trying to promote healthy eating on Halloween). We were on the hunt for candy, carefully strategizing the route which would reap the most profit and fill our pillow cases. Stragglers were left behind with the toddlers and adults who couldn’t keep up the pace. But the night’s work was always worth it in the end- then came the hard part of finding a good hiding spot for your stash. You might even lose track of it, but you can always depend on the dog to find it again…and cost your parents a trip to the vet’s office. Unfortunately, the Halloween of my childhood has passed and I am not longer trick-or-treating. My current Halloween plans reflect upon a new level of maturity: get dressed up and party. Simple enough. But the celebration of Halloween changes as we grow up. No more playing Wrap the Mummy, Monster Mania, or Pin the Tail on the Black Cat – give us a table with some plastic cups and beer and everyone is happy. We are not drinking orange juice and soda anymore, unless it’s just there to be mixed in with another beverage. The costumes change too; I abandoned my sweet little princess outfits and transformed into a police officer or a nurse for the night instead. And the clothes actually shrunk right before my eyes I as physically grew up- costumes suddenly cost a whole lot more, but there’s much less fabric. Does anyone else miss the floor-length princess costumes with the long sleeves, paired with some sneakers? Just me, maybe.
3. Eat Thanksgiving Food
What’s not to love about Thanksgiving? It is a day when we celebrate with family and friends. A day that has been part of American tradition for years. A day when my mom accidently threw out the gravy because she mistook it for turkey fat (in her defense, she is a vegetarian and doesn’t cook, but we never quite forgave her for it). A day that is more than a holiday, but a special occasion where people get together without having to give gifts. A day where we can all reflect upon what we are truly thankful for in life… like how I am thankful for all of the food I get to eat. The sentimental stuff is all well and good, but let’s get serious. Most people are in it for the free meal. And while I will admit my main motivation to attend a family Thanksgiving dinner is for what is being served on the table, I do enjoy the whole experience. Plenty of food to eat, football playing on the TV, and good company to enjoy…and did I mention the dessert?
4. Build a bonfire
I absolutely love having a fire on a crisp fall night. I love the smell of the smoke and the sound of the flames, whether it’s a roaring blaze or smoldering embers (or firecrackers from the wood popping, when the guys decide they want to burn the yard down by making a wood stack that Paul Bunyan would be jealous of). I love wearing my boots, scarf, lightweight jacket, and feeling perfectly comfortable as I snuggle up to the fire pit when the sun goes down and the temperature gets cold. And (if you didn’t realize by now) I am a pretty big fan of food, so roasting marshmallows, smores, and hot dogs is another huge plus to having a bonfire… you get to snack and relax- the ultimate combination. Bonfires can bring people together for a raging party, a casual gathering, or even make for a more intimate setting. That’s right, I’m talking about romance. When its a cool fall night and people are outside, its almost inevitable that some of them will be trying to find ways to stay warm. Body heat + a bonfire = problem solved.
5. Go Apple Picking
Enjoy a beautiful fall day at an apple orchard or farm- even have a bite or two while you’re busy collecting. I usually go with my nieces and nephews, and their childlike enthusiasm matches mine and just makes the whole experience better (plus, having the kids there gives me an excuse to go on the hayride and the petting zoo). And like me, you may get super excited at all the things you are going to make with your apples and go really overboard by picking way too many; I’m talking so many apples that you have to start giving them away. This is me at the end of the season with my friends or even the occasional stranger: “Oh here, have an apple- have four…or take them all!” On the plus side, there are so many things to make from apples: apple pie, apple crisp, apple cider, candy apples (my favorite!)…the list could go on. I tell myself as I stuff my face that I’m not completely eating junk food- apples are fruit, and they are healthy…especially when dipped in caramel.