As the weather gets cooler and we prep for what promises to be a harsher winter than the one day of snow we had last year (you know that one…it made Halloween a day late) we think about snuggling deeper into our couches and embrace all things comforting. But before we do that, we do have a chance for some last minute outdoor activity and we run with it, because soon it will be the dreaded dark time. Remember those? It’s dark when you leave for work in the early morning and dark when you travel home at five. You find yourself sleeping more and being less motivated to get to the gym—or even out the door. We’ve all been there, but we are not there just yet. For now, there are more hours of daylight and we fill them with…
Visiting farms! On Saturday, we took a trip to Philly’s Greensgrow Farm for their Subaru Fall Festival. Philadelphia has a farm, you say? Why yes, an urban farm that also boasts a food co-op for seasonal veggies and is home to Milkshake the pig, whose first birthday celebration was also Saturday—cake for all. In addition to singing to a pig, snapping pics of chickens and petting goats, we also participated in the chili sampling contest (talk about comfort food) and voted for the best one in our humble opinions. For five bucks, you get to sample fourteen delicious varieties of the homemade dish. Perfect lunch with free cornbread and a cup of a local brewery’s cider was followed by vegan baked goods by a local organic bakery. Yum!
Speaking of comfort food, who visits Philly and leaves without a cheesesteak? Not me! We went to Pat’s this time; rival and diagonal neighbor of our fave Geno’s—which still our favorite, even though Pat’s was tasty. Why mention this part of the weekend? To remind you that it’s only the weather and it’s okay to don a coat and trek to South Philly because you are in the mood for a nice comforting meal. These are the things we tend to forget once it’s winter. Plus it’s fun to write about the experience (you knew I was going there didn’t you?) when you get home. Sure, we can indulge in blizzard rants all winter, but while the leaves are still on the trees, we can also stack ammo for the coming months. Yes I quoted Eminem—he calls it stacking ammo and I think that’s a perfect way to see it. Sometimes when it’s cold and gray we forget to write all the good stuff down, hence missed opportunity.
Take yesterday for another example: Pumpkin picking! Each year we choose our Jack-to-be from a patch at a farm in Chester, NJ. The town is quaint and has delicious coffee and resembles a place yet untouched by freeways or vandalism. Think: Colonial vibe with quaint shops, antiques and lots of pet- friendly places to grab a sandwich alfresco while peeping the foliage. Why not indulge and hang onto the sunlight—which will need to be pried from my chapped, peeling hands this winter if you think I am letting go at all. But before I do, there will be mugs of steaming cider in my stories, stock ups at back to school sales and dog tales galore. My pups like the snow too, but think about the imagery that goes with a giant pile of freshly raked leaves and a floppy eared four legged friend…embrace the opportunity and add to the ammo pile.
In the same way, this is the perfect time of year to chronicle your kids’ back to school tales of terror—you know: the math homework that makes us cringe as adults and the thought of school lunches. Write about the dreaded harbinger of homeroom that you recall wrecking your preteen years. Look back to when writing was a chore rather than a pleasure; even if your examples of this are few, we all have them. I recall a Global Studies Regents essay that nearly killed me and an economics term paper that almost sucked the life out of me. Add to that a Psych midterm that was supposed to be multiple choice and ended up all short answer (with one giant unexpected essay) and I recall one of my finest pieces of fluff that got me an A despite my panic.
Thinking about digging deeper into those couches with your pajama’d frame? Go for it, tuck in with your laptop like I do. Craving mac and cheese and dreading the gym? I’ve noticed a trend in my gym that sticks through winter (though still debating if this is even ok.) Food TV is constantly on in front of the treadmills and elliptical machines. Yes, there are soap operas playing too alongside CNN…but there is comfort food in the gym as well—every single day. Due to an unpredictable work schedule, I’ve been there at all hours and there is a constant stream of Paula Deen and Barefoot Contessa. Mac and cheese, stews, casseroles—you name it there it is as we sweat away that cupcake from yesterday. Seems quite duplicitous doesn’t it?
In retrospect, Fall has always been my favorite season and I never have a shortage of inspiration like I do in Winter. Sure holiday markets pop up all over Manhattan and the town’s Christmas tree is intricately designed and begs for a descriptive essay about its boughs. There is much ado about mall-rats and frantic moms that will cut you for the last American Girl Doll with blue eyes. When the weather gives you cabin fever, you may find yourself running out to make snow angels and then documenting your experience. Hope so! Love those days! But sometimes the dark days weigh us down. In anticipation I use Autumn to compensate. Costume wearing is a book in itself, as is all the fuss kids cause about an apple in the candy pile—or as I recall, a bag of pennies. What was up with Halloween in the eighties?
Whatever your mood this month, think about all the gifts that we get for free—that part really resonates; from the Fall. Pretty landscapes don’t cost a cent. Pumpkins are sixty nine cents a pound and come in miniscule sizes that are a whopping buck a piece. Gourds. Although I don’t do anything but gape at the weirdness of them, gourds afford quality gawking time. We forget about gawking once bodies are more covered than exposed in horrific ways as they are on the beach. Gawking is good for the creative mind. Go ahead, try it—gawk at a gourd. If you don’t have a thought that is worthy of jotting down I’d be very, very surprised. Gourds. Food for the pen. Seriously.
Hopefully you are now in a brighter mindset about the coming winter. May Fall bring you inspiration in the form of pumpkin spice lattes and quiche with a side of chowder. May your leaf blowers work well and your Halloweens run on schedule this year—because it was downright bizarre to see kids trick or treating on November first. Remember, stack ammo, look at leaves and embrace Columbus Day bargains. Stare at striped, twisty, wart ridden fruit and carve pumpkins into the Batmobile. Take tons of pictures and write it all down. Just don’t forget to run while watching Food TV at the gym.