Fall is rife with opportunities for making memories with those we love.
Blue-as-a-bird skies and trees the color of fire. Air that’s crisp and cool. Jeans and a sweater. Shoes made for exploring – at whatever pace the day decides. When it comes to enjoying easy, fun and treasured traditions together as a family, fall is where it’s at.
When it comes to enjoying easy, fun and treasured traditions together as a family, fall is where it’s at. Photo: Caiaimage / Robert Daly / Getty Images
In autumn, you can strap a baby to your front or tote a toddler on your back, and head out for a hike without worrying about overheating or frozen toes. When our boys, Julian and Kai, now 10 and 8, were in the tiny and toddler phases, my husband Jon and I would take them out near our house in Vermont and stroll along, simply citing what we saw: Look at this beautiful yellow leaf! Can you spot the one shaped like a heart? With Mother Nature offering such perfect prompts for talking to our baby and engaging our toddler, parenting felt easy.
As our kids have gotten older, we’ve upped the ante. We now choose trails that are a bit longer, with some elevation. Conversations center more on science – the senescence of leaves, the difference between moss and lichen. We might pass the time with rhyming word games, or stories about when Jon and I were kids. These hikes offer so much time for sharing, for hearing the contents of each other’s brains, stimulated by the scenery.
Once a season, we make an afternoon of the apple orchard with a big crew of friends. We meet there, with nearly a dozen kids between us. We stop to buy sugar-sprinkled cider doughnuts at the stand, then hop on a tractor that carts us out into a field lined with all sorts of apple trees. Some of us prefer Empire apples, others McIntosh, so we settle into a spot between rows of the two, fly open our blankets and spread out cheese and crackers (and the tub of peanut butter our friend Nate always insists upon bringing). The kids compete to find the most perfect fruit and kick around soccer balls. We linger until the shadows are long, then gather at one of our houses to assembly-line chop veggies for chili and slice apples for homemade pie.
Make your way to a harvest festival. Photo: Hero Images / Getty Images
It’s okay to get a bit ambitious with the fall family fun, because who knows how many more weekends there will be before the frost sets in, before it’s not so easy to move about? Maybe you make your way to a harvest festival where there’s great music (always a harmonica and banjo) and fire-roasted sweet corn, where the kids can meander through mazes of hay and you can sneak bites of their Brown Betty while sipping apple cider – or a strong dark roast, straight up.
In the last couple of seasons, our kids’ soccer schedules have worked into our autumn activities; still, we’ve managed to keep our fall traditions alive, and even start a new one: a camping trip. We choose a nearish-by state park and pack soccer uniforms so we can drive back home for the games, only to return to eat dinner cooked over a fire and sleep together, snuggled close, in a tent. Fall offers one last chance to live, for a day or two, in the woods – where playing cards and bubble-blowing contests obliterate the temptation of electronic devices.
Seizing the day in such a way can be challenging when you’re in the trenches of young family life. Buried in permission slips and pet responsibilities and loads of laundry, it’s hard to remember what living really looks like. But with her brilliant beauty, autumn seduces us into leaving the laundry for later in favor of getting out to enjoy the fleeting sweetness – into rounding up those we love to celebrate the simple pleasures of being alive on this earth together.
Is your family ready to celebrate the spooky season? Download our Subaru pumpkin stencil to create a standout jack-o’-lantern.
Fall offers one last chance to live, for a day or two, in the woods. Photo: Hero Images / Getty Images