If you’re anything like I am, the second kids start boarding school buses, I start counting down to Fall. It doesn’t matter that it’s still summer or that the sweltering heat is a constant reminder that the seasons haven’t yet changed. School is back in session on Monday, and even if I’m long past the time of backpacks and freshly sharpened pencils, I still feel like Fall is in the air.
Maybe it’s because Fall is my favorite season. Maybe I’m just sick of Summer. Whatever the reason, whenever August rolls around and September creeps in, I’m sitting here with my pumpkin spice latte ready to carve pumpkins and get this Fall party started.
But Fall isn’t all pumpkin spice and falling leaves- although I love those parts. It’s also a wonderful time to reconnect with nature and to reconnect with ourselves. So sharpen those pencils and get ready to make a list of the wonderful Fall activities that will help you get grounded, stay centered, and mindfully participate in my favorite season.
1. Go For a Hike
Even if you’re not a nature person or hiking person, try to make time for at least a short hike in the woods. There's a short cross-country trail at Bill Wood Park, and nearby Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge has several hiking trails. Choose a trail that matches your level of fitness and take a technology break by silencing your cell phones. Hiking is a great way to spend time in nature, ground ourselves with our senses, and truly reconnect to the present moment and to Mother Earth.
2. Pick-Your-Own Pumpkins
Going to a pumpkin patch is a great way to support local farms and farmers, but it’s also a wonderful way to mindfully approach the season. Choose a pumpkin for pie, jack o lanterns, or simply to sit outside as a natural decoration to celebrate the season. Many pumpkin patches also have bonus activities like hayrides and games for children to help encourage a feeling of festivity. Washington Farms in nearby Bogart, Georgia, is a local favorite.
3. Enjoy a Bonfire
Grounding ourselves should include all of our senses whenever possible, and it doesn’t hurt to also consider all of the elements, too. A fire is a great way to focus our intentions, and we can always turn this bonfire into a ritual where we practice letting go of that which doesn’t serve us. We can also roast marshmallows, make s’mores, revive an oral storytelling tradition, and spend time with friends and family to help center ourselves in what matters.
4. Head to the Lake
If hiking connects us with Earth and a bonfire connects us with Fire, it’s not a bad idea to add a water activity to the list. Kayaking is my personal favorite water activity, and Fall is still a great time of year to go out on the lake. Enjoy how the changing leaves are reflected on the water and take time to be present with each stroke and forward movement. Head to Lake Oconee or nearby Hard Labor Creek State Park to enjoy time on the water.
5. Cultivate Hygge
Celebrate hearth and home by cultivating a hygge vibe in our spaces. Hygge is a Danish concept that means making everything extra cozy. Think thick blankets, warm socks, candles lit for ambiance, yummy baking scents, and even a stack of enticing books. Hygge is a full sensory experience, one that can be helpful in staying calm and centered. Even when the weather or our schedules won’t allow us to go outside, we can still celebrate the season inside with a hygge atmosphere.
Pick up a cup of coffee from Oconee Coffee Roasters, and head to Catherine Ann's Candles has the perfect candles to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere (you can even take a class to make your own). Pick up warm socks at Laughing Moon, and check out the cozy blankets at In High Cotton. Pick up other decorative accents at Madison Grace Home, Madison Markets, and Archambault Interiors in Madison. Pick up flowers for your home at Gussie's House of Flowers or Zeb Grant Design.
6. Attend An Outdoor Festival
Take in the air with an outdoor festival during this inviting season. On Saturday, September 18th, Main Street Madison Georgia and Madison Town Park are hosting Saturday in the Park for a dance party with The Sensational Sounds of Motown. This time of year is usually when carnivals, fairs, and other amusements come to town, and this can be another way to experience the joys- and gratitude- of the season.
7. Mix Up Kitchen Magic
Step into the kitchen to prepare food with love, choosing recipes that are comforting, hearty, and warm for this change of season. This is a great time of year to put together soup in a crockpot, bake a fresh loaf of bread (with an extra or two to share with a loved one or neighbor), and put together a pie or cookies with an added pinch of love. Autumn has always meant welcome to me, although I’m not sure why the association is so strong. Perhaps it’s simply the coziest of seasons for me, and whipping up a little kitchen witchery seems like the perfect accompaniment to the perfect season.
8. Give From the Heart
Soon, we’ll be approaching the seasons of gratitude and then gift-giving, but we can allow this change of seasons to begin by infusing our whole hearts with a sense of generosity. We can give of our time, putting away our phones and going screen-free to tune in to our families. We can donate our time to help out a good cause. We can take those baked goods to a public service worker to thank them for their service or visit a vet and do the same. We can volunteer at the Morgan County Library's annual book sale in October. We can give in ways that have nothing to do with money and everything to do with our time, attention, and presence.
9. Check Out Autumn Reads
Gather autumn reads, movies, and even songs around to truly soak in the season. Visit the Morgan County Library to check out seasonal books and movies. My Fall reading picks include The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and classics like Dracula by Bram Stoker, the Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Movie picks could include Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, the entire Harry Potter series, the entire Hitchcock collection, and anything at all to do with football. Songs vary according to taste but choose a moody one for a laid-back Autumn atmosphere.
To you, Fall might just mean another semester of school or a season of football. It may be your favorite of all seasons or one that you don’t think twice about. But every season has its beautiful aspects and when we set our intentions toward positivity, mindfulness, and gratitude, we can make the most out of whatever season is ahead.
So, drink your pumpkin spice latte or don’t. Carve up a pumpkin, bake a pumpkin pie, or simply light that autumn candle you love. The season is coming, like all the other seasons in our lives, and if we open our hearts wide, maybe this season can be the best one yet.
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