Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Operation "Make Fall Fun"

I love the fall, but it's always hard to make the transition from the warm vibrance of summer. I mentioned the end of summer to a friend the other day, and he groaned and asked me not to talk about it. It's especially tough here in the PNW where our summers are so short and haphazard. Luckily, we had an amazing, mostly sunny month of September, but now October has hit with shorter darker days and a deep chill to the night air. Of course, there's nothing we can do about it, so I think it best to embrace this fall. Heck, even make it fun! That's what I told my reluctant friend- time to get excited and proactive about this beautiful, darkening time of year.
Here are some ideas that help me...

* Cultivate forgotten indoor activities: Cook! Renew your netflix subscription! Play board games! Sew! Knit hats! Write an artful letter to your aunt! Read those books that have been on your list. I've started reading more again, most recently Bird By Bird (Anne Lamott), Rabbit, Run (John Updike), and The One-Straw Revolution (Masanobu Fukuoka).

*Eat 'harvest' foods: There is so much amazing food this time of year! It's the best of end of summer with (finally!) ripe tomatoes, beans, greens, cucumber, corn, and zucchini, but the winter squashes are in too. I love seeing pumpkins at the stores, and I got inspired by this month's Sunset magazine to try some new pumpkin recipes. I made the Cashew, Coconut, and Pumpkin Curry which was great, and I still have my eye on the pumpkin gingersnap ice cream and caramelized orange pumpkin flan. With all this food in season, it's also a great time to start canning if you haven't already. Last week I was in Bellingham and stopped by Joe's Garden and couldn't pass up the 25 pound box of beets. Twenty-five pounds! I did a big round of pickling of beets, green beans, and carrots, and something about all those different colors in glass mason jars makes my heart warm and grateful.
*Keep playing outside: Just because it's a bit cooler and wetter, doesn't mean you should stay indoors! Seattle rarely gets that cold; in fact, it always looks worse out than it really is. Once you are outside and moving, you're fine. Fall hikes are awesome with the changing colors, and on the Washington Trails Association website, you can even search for hikes by where there are the best colors! I find I also really enjoy working in the garden, and there is plenty to do this time of year- harvest what's ready, pull out what's done, leave root crops to overwinter, save seeds, transplant brassicas, sow cover crop, build cloches, etc. If you need inspiration or new garden skills, consider taking an adult garden education class at Seattle Tilth.

*Rediscover your cute, functional fall clothes: Scarves! Hats! That really cozy down jacket! That awesome sweater! Fashion rain boots! Boots with skirts and leggings!

*Drink fall cocktails: Just as food changes by season, so should drinks. This summer I was mostly enjoying summer beers, Pimm's #1 Cups, gin and tonics, and mojitos with basil. But now I'm thinking of pumpkin ales, apple cider, bourbon, and warm drinks. There are lots of recipes online for general autumn mixed drinks here and here. Another idea- bloody mary's with my home-pickled carrots sticks and green beans, instead of a celery stick.

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