Fall is finally here for real, it seems. We may still have lovely warm afternoons, but the foggy, crisp mornings that make you want a sweater are filling my heart with peace. After a wonderful hot summer and a lingering school transition of warm, my soul is ready for cozy.
Now that the back-to-school excitement has settled a bit, it’s a fine time to explore those things that bring us the joy of the calm season before the craziness of the holiday season.
What are your favorite fall family activities? Tell us in the comments section.
- Fall Minus: Getting ready to go for a bike ride is now much more involved than just throwing on my helmet.
- Fall Plus: Pumpkin-flavored everything. That is, if you get any. As my friend Christine Lau Porterfield said, “True love is letting your son have the Starbucks pumpkin cream cheese muffin that was intended for you.”
Pumpkins are fall in an orange ball. Whether you go to a classic pumpkin patch (Snohomish is just dripping with them, but we love Remlinger Farms, with so much else to do) or do something more innovative (the Redmond Pool has a swimming patch on Oct. 27) or just grab one from your local grocery store, it’s hard to imagine a fall without pumpkins. Grab one and get carving!
- Fall Minus: How do you dress a child for a day that is 45 degrees at school drop off and 75 degrees at school pick up?
- Fall Plus: Corn mazes and fall festivals make weekends feel like mini-vacations.
Sure, you have to layer, but getting lost in corn with your family is worth every challenge. Again, there are a million local mazes, but my family loves Carpinto Brothers for sheer size and outrageous design, and Dr. Maze’s for convenience (and old memories from when it was South 47).
If mazes aren’t a fit for your family, there are fall festivals ranging from Issaquah’s Salmon Days, to the Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth, to Oktoberfests everywhere. I swear, somewhere in the Puget Sound area, there is a fall festival for everyone.
- Fall Minus: The farmer’s markets are shutting down, and they don’t have berries anymore anyway.
- Fall Plus: They’re not closed yet, and have you seen them apples?
Washington has so many apples, it sometimes seems like Johnny Appleseed somersaulted all over the state. Although we don’t have as many u-pick options for apples as we have for blueberries, I have heard wonderful things about Jones Creek Farms in Skagit Valley, and we’ll be heading there some upcoming weekend to harvest many heirloom varieties you can’t get in the stores.
We practically live at the Minea Farms cider mill year round, but fall is when they come into their prime. Drop by their place, or your local cider mill, for fresh pressed juice that makes you think you’re drinking a whole apple.
- Fall Minus: Rain. Rain. Rain.
- Fall Plus: Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!
Getting out to enjoy the changing leaves can mean simply walking outside, or taking a short trip across the water to the Washington Park Arboretum, or driving to do one of the Northwest’s fall colors hikes. Whatever you do, it’s the balance of the spring’s cherry blossom snows, and a wonderful thing to enjoy with your whole family.
Fall is a time for transition. Between the hot craziness of summer and the cold craziness of winter, we have a month or two of rest and recovery. Enjoy the flavors, sights, sounds and smells of our Western Washington autumn. May your soul fill with fall, may your feet kick some leaves, and may you dance another turn of the year with your family and friends.
A final note. I cannot write a parenting column in Redmond this week without mentioning that my thoughts have been far from my topic, and are instead with the family of Jackson Roos. Roos family, I cannot imagine your agony, and my heart is so heavy for your loss. May you find solace in each other. Readers, if you are religious, pray for this family. If you are not, think good thoughts for them. And no matter what your beliefs, hug your kids especially hard tonight.