Maybe because it is my birthday (October 22) or maybe because the change of seasons made my happy, but I’ve always enjoyed “the fall” – autumn, especially as it played out in my imagination – a New England crisp, colorful, crinkly season. Usually, September was still pretty hot, October was iffy and suddenly it was a dreary November. Still, hope springs eternal or perhaps falls eternal.
My list of must-do-things
1. Costume for our dog. I swore I’d never be that person – no costumes, no hats, no Christmas cards, no goose on the front porch wearing a bonnet. Five years ago, I paid someone to make my dog a costume – a green pea. Our friend’s daughter was the princess and they won the contest. I deluded myself into thinking the costume was a coat. Ha. Mona (the dog) wasn’t fooled and ate the hat. Now little Miss Ana is forced to dress up in a green dinosaur costume with a caveman riding along its back. She hates it, but she’s 12 pounds so I usually win that battle. A few years ago, she took home the “Ralph Reed” award at a costume contest. This year, I’m trying to convince Ledcat to dress up as a cavewoman to go along with her. We’ll either go to Animal Friends Howloween or another dog costume party. It’s just what we do.
2. Pumpkin spice everything. From lattes to those amazing iced cookies from Giant Eagle, I love pumpkin. These things were not part of my childhood. We had pie and we had pumpkin seeds. That was it. Now there’s pumpkin everything and I love it. We can’t light candles because of the cats (no matter how vigilant we are) so I have had a pumpkin spice scented candle for a long time. Each year, I think I’ll light it for a bit. Each year, I don’t.
3. Leaves. We don’t have leaves in our backyard (thankfully) but there is a glorious boulevard impact along my street that looks amazing in the sun. We like to drive around the neighborhoods and see the views. Sometimes we talk about taking a day trip, but there are plenty of spaces to see nearby. When I lived in Louisiana, I missed leaves more than almost anything.
4. Halloween decorations. We put up a wreath – my goal this year is to take off the Halloweeny parts and make it more autumnal so it’s appropriate until Thanksgiving. Lord. We have a ton of decorations but are challenged by a lack electricity outside and the narrow window ledges. Oh and the cats. Our street is pretty laid back so we can put a pumpkin outside with no problem. But my favorite are these old toys I bought at Murphy’s Mart in North Versailles (remember that place?) when I had no money to speak of – they were on sale. There are three – a talking pumpkin, a bat that used to light up and a skull that cackles. I know, cackling skull makes no sense but I’ve not yet had to replace the battery and we are going on 14 years or so. That makes it feel like Halloween – when the poverty years’ decorations come out.
5. Trick or Treat. We don’t have a lot of traffic on our end of the street, but it is always so much fun to sit on the stoop and distribute candy. Sometimes, I bring Ana outside (in her costume) but that rarely ends well. We only know a handful of kids, but it is just so sweet and cute and genuine neighborhoodish.
6. Apple Cider. Do you know the apple guy at the Farmers’ Market? His cider is the best and he’ll force you to try a sip before you purchase. It’s delicious – reminds me of being a kid and making the trek to Trax Farms to get cider.
7. Sitting on the deck on a cool morning with a cup of coffee. Our deck is nothing glamorous and our view includes a bridge and several parking lots, but I do appreciate going outside in the morning wearing sweats and sipping my coffee. I pretend I live in Vermont even though I’ve never been to Vermont. And my peaceful fake moment is usually shattered by some urgent need to bark furiously at a passerby, leap against the fence and otherwise force me to rise and issue some meaningless threat against the canines. By which time, of course, my coffee is cold. Sigh. But it’s a ritual.
8. Football. I was in the high school band. I live on Pittsburgh’s Northside (less than 1 mile from Heinz Field). So when I say parking cones, parking chairs, the smell of charcoal and orange flag wavers bearing a “Parking for Just $20” sign … you know what I mean. I never watch football. It is just a demarcation of a season shift. I can feel it as surely as I can still feel the marching cadences roaring in my blood.
9. Haunted House. I can usually handle one per season (both financially and emotionally) but I do enjoy them. My favorite is ScareHouse because its terrifying and well managed. I dislike Phantom Fridays at Kennywood because the crowd is just too unruly and hyped on adrenalin. Plus, yearly photo of ScareHouse Bunny!
On my list of things I always intend to do
- Go to a Steelers game (I haven’t been since 1982)
- That daytrip to see the leaves
- Get a costume for Halloween for myself
- Go to a costume party
Maybe this year?