Crisp evenings and drier air usher in the annual return of the fall season. Days shorten, temperatures drop, and firewood pops. October presents a peak show of colors, scents, and sounds: The smell of woodsmoke drifting along with the breeze, maple trees in a brilliant display of painted colors, toasted marshmallows, mulled cider, a steaming bowl of chili, football stadiums, honking geese, and fuzzy blankets.
With schedules in full swing, take advantage of the refreshing October temperatures by playing in the great outdoors, for before you know it, winter will have us hunkering indoors again.
Are you crunched for time and money? Set up a fire pit, roast marshmallows, and sleep overnight in a tent—all in your backyard. Invite your neighborhood friends to join you and tell funny stories. During daylight hours, send the kids outdoors to play a game of tag football, paint and decorate pumpkins, or let them invent a new activity. Dust off a vintage game like croquet or badminton. Try a new recipe with seasonal ingredients such as pumpkins, apples, or butternut squash. Move dinner outside one last time this year to a picnic table or on a blanket and serve a bowl of hot chili with all the fixings.
Need an activity to burn off some school and work stress? Head to a state or local park and hike. Remember to bring along water, snacks, and mosquito spray, especially on long trails. Pack a picnic lunch and stop to enjoy the views. Fill the bike tires with air and ride around the neighborhood. Or rake leaves together, then jump in a pile. You might even want to consider raking a neighbor’s yard. You’ll need to drive for this activity, but watch a movie at an old-fashioned outdoor theater (Watertown, TN).
Ready to join the crowds? Participate in perennial favorites such as apple picking or visiting a pumpkin patch. Many pumpkin farms provide games, hayrides, or mazes for kids. Small-town fall festivals or Trunk or Treat events offer organized fun and yummy foods like caramel apples, warm cinnamon donuts, and hot cocoa.
Slow down and pay attention during this too-short season. Look up and remind kids that God created the golden harvest moon, the mellow colors, the changing of seasons, and his most incredible creation—people. All these glorious sights, scents, and sounds we enjoy in autumn are meant to point us to God, the Creator of all things.
Reminisce with the family about all you did and how you saw God through his creation. Say a prayer of thanksgiving. The rushed and chaotic holidays will arrive soon enough, so tarry in this golden season.
Sally Cressman and her husband enjoy the easy rhythm of an empty nest south of Nashville. She’d love to connect with you through Instagram at @sacressman or on Facebook.