It’s fall!! Ok. Fine. It’s fall elsewhere in the world. Here it’s a stifling 90 degrees in mid-September. Instead of the crisp cool breeze of fall, there is a hot breeze that feels like you are standing too close to an open-mouth breather in a crowded elevator. Here the leaves are falling…but not in glorious colorful displays…they are so dehydrated from the heat and sun and drought that they are sadly crumbling to the ground in a brown crunchy heap. So yeah…today is the first day of fall…but it feels so far from it.
There are many things I love about SoCal. But, from September until February, I often find myself going through bouts of nostalgic jealousy when I see photos from all my friends and family back on the east coast. Happily bundled in cozy scarfs, donning boots and light jackets, flannel and jeans. I must admit, now that I have children, my yearning for a TRUE fall is greatly amplified.
Having kids tends to bring you back to your own childhood memories. And fall in upstate New York is nothing short of magical. So I decided, since clearly I’m way too pregnant to make an impromptu trip back home to soak in the fall, instead I’ll make a “bucket list” of all the things that make up those magical fall memories and challenge myself to find ways to fulfill them right here in HOT, sunny Southern California. Who’s with me?!
- Apple Picking. Nothing screams fall like hopping on the back of a hay wagon, getting dropped off in the middle of an orchard and spending the day wandering through lush green acres of apples upon apples. Eating and picking your way through.
- Pumpkin patches. Ok…here is one that I have tried my best to replicate here, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that like shopping for a christmas tree, it will never really be the same. Yes. There are a multitude of pumpkin patches. Yes, they have perfectly round, plump orange pumpkins ready to be carved. Yes, they have gourds galore that you can sprinkle throughout the house festively. BUT, they aren’t the same. When you go to a pumpkin patch where I grew up the pumpkins actually grow out of the ground. And you know this because you actually CUT THEM OFF THE VINE. They come in a variety of colors and shapes and aren’t lined up in perfect rows on a bed of hay strewn over a vacant parking lot. That being said, there are some great fun places to get your pumpkins here in LA…but again…it’s not quite the same. If anyone knows where I can cut one off the vine please let me know!!
- Getting down and dirty on the Farm. At this incredibly quaint place called Powers Farm Market in my hometown they set up adorable little teepees full of intricately decorated pumpkins. They do a haunted hayride at night through the semi-wooded farm land. There are animals and a cute little market where you can get freshly made apple cider donuts and other local goods. Another one of our favorites, Wickham Farms, has a giant hay maze you can meander through for hours. They all have pumpkins and hayrides and the most amazing apple cider. For some reason, maybe it’s the flannel…perhaps the scarecrows, or just the harvest inspired colors of gourds and squash, but going to a real working farm is the stuff childhood fall dreams are made of.
- Apple Cider. Some of you may not be aware, but apple cider is NOT heated up apple juice. I didn’t know people actually thought this until I attempted to find apple cider here in Los Angeles. No matter how fancy the coffee shop, no matter how prominently and proudly theydisplay apple cider on their menu boards…it is damn near impossible to actually find apple CIDER here. Southern Californians, you have all been grossly mislead. You see, apple cider is made by a completely different process where ALL of the apple is used. It’s richer, and earthier, and doesn’t taste like, well, juice. When we were living in NYC, one of my favorite places was the union square farmers market in the fall/winter where they made fresh apple cider stewed in giant metal pots throughout the day. It was satisfying beyond imagination. I have yet to stumble upon TRUE apple cider here in L.A. Perhaps I will need to learn to make my own…
- Apple Crisp. There is a small little canvas bag that contains nothing more than the fixings needed for apple crisp that is sold at Powers Farm Market in my hometown. I swear there is nothing unique or special about it…except there truly is nothing like it. I’ve tried recipe after recipe for apple crisp, (most of which all contain the same exact ingredients) yet none of them compare to the taste of this apple crisp hot out of the oven. Once my dad pulls it out of the oven (yes, my dad does all the cooking – my mom can’t make mac and cheese) it doesn’t even have time to cool before it’s devoured. It’s soooo good. Trust that I’m truly taking advantage of the fact that my parents are coming in November for baby #2’s arrival, and I will be begging my dad to pack some in his suitcase for me.
- Jumping in piles of colorful leaves. I know this one may be impossible. But if you haven’t experienced the joy of a little kid jumping into a GIANT pile of vibrant colored leaves of red, orange, yellow and everything in between, you really should. It’s one of those things like waking up and running outside in the middle of the night during the first snowfall or jumping in rain puddles that floods you will nostalgia and fills your heart with joy. You can have all the fancy toys in the world…but there is nothing like the playground our earth creates for us as the seasons change. A couple of years ago, Avery got to play in the leaves at my parents’ house when we were home in the fall. It was amazing. He exploded in a fit of giggles and smiles bigger than I’ve ever seen. I know I probably won’t be able to truly replicate this one…but we are gonna try. Wish me luck!
It’s not a very demanding list…but it is what my mind and heart think of when I remember my childhood. It’s what I so desperately want to have Avery experience when he asks me “is it fall?” and I respond “yes” only to get confused looks because what he sees outside doesn’t match any of the things he’s read about in books.