We have officially crossed over into fall, and while we are still a few weeks from daylight savings time the days are getting shorter. It is noticeably darker much earlier in the day, the mornings are getting chillier and the greenery outside is fading away. With the seasonal changes come emotional changes as well. As summer fades away we mourn it’s passing and dread the colder, darker days to come.
This year instead of falling into a funk about the loss of daylight, take some time to enjoy what we have left. Seasonal affective disorder is a real and serious condition, and if you have deeper symptoms with the change in seasons, reach out to your doctor. But for those of us who are just looking for a bit of a mood boost, here are some favorite ways to squeeze a bit more sunshine out of fall.
1. Take a scenic drive. Leaves may be changing and there might be a bit more of a chill in the air, but there are still plenty of afternoons where the sun is shining, even if not for as many hours. Fall is perfect for what I call “sunroof and seat warmer” weather. Roll the windows down to catch the crisp air, open the sunroof if you have one to feel the sun rays and turn on the seat warmers, or the heat on low to stay cozy. Take the opportunity to use these days to take a drive with no purpose other than exploring the world around you. Appreciate the colorful leaves, listen to the migrating geese through your open windows and stop missing summer or dreading winter and actually experience fall.
2. Catch a Flick. Rather than sitting in the artificial environment of a movie theater, find a drive-in and watch in the elements. Drive-In theaters are a dying breed, but there are still a few hundred gems sprinkled around the US. Do a quick internet search to see if there’s one accessible to you, then grab some blankets, camp chairs and picnic snacks (if the theater allows), and camp out in front of the silver screen. Start outside enjoying the crisp fall air and if it gets too chilly hop back in the car for a good old-fashioned experience. If there isn’t a drive-in near you, enlist the neighbors or a group of friends and project a movie on a sheet outside, the side of the garage or haul your whole TV outdoors and snuggle up in some blankets under the stars.
3. Have a BBQ. While the daylight may be waning and the temperatures dropping, there are still plenty of mild (or at least not frigid) days left. Find a few hours of moderate weather and gather some family and friends for a barbecue. Even if the majority of the party ends up indoors you can still throw some food on the grill and reminisce about sprinklers and sunblock. Try chicken breasts, pork chops or shish-kabobs instead of the traditional burgers and dogs and throw some fall veggies (think squash, cauliflower and parsnips) tossed with olive oil in a grill basket for a nutritious and delicious side. Gather ‘round a fire pit, toast marshmallows or end the night with some hot chocolate to keep things cozy.
4. Go apple picking. Again, take advantage of being outdoors before the bitter cold keeps you inside day and night. Find a local orchard and go apple picking. Or pumpkin picking, or both! Some very tasty apple varieties are still ripe for the picking into late October and there’s all kinds of fall recipes and drinks that would taste even better homemade with freshly harvested fruits!
5. Plant bulbs. If you’re missing spring flowers and summer sun, spend some time outside preparing for next year. Bulbs should be planted in the fall in preparation for the next spring and most of them can be planted at any point before the ground freezes. Browse the internet or wander your local garden center to view the pretty pictures of tulips, hyacinth, daffodils and crocus, and dream of how your flower beds will look when they greet you on the other side of the coming cold weather. Then spend a couple hours outside getting your hands dirty. Dig holes in your beds or container gardens and pop those bulbs into the earth. Then imagine them reaching for the sun and spring won’t seem quite so far away.
The dreary afternoons and frigid winds of winter are coming, but there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors before they arrive.
What’s your favorite outdoor fall activity?