I am a New England child at heart. Therefore, Autumn means:
1. Pumpkin EVERYTHING.
2. Apple picking at Lyman Orchards, which turns into consuming gallons of cider and apple butter.
3. A cold snap so sudden that you can smell it in the air.
4. Jumping in piles of multicolored deadness, aka fallen leaves.
5. Bonfires after soccer games, which you can get away with attending in a wool sweater and scarf, or perhaps a hooded puffy vest.
One of Joel’s Facebook friends from back East posted this as his status: “Oystah Fest. F’n great.” with a picture of himself, a Sam Adams Octoberfest lager at his side, staring at the camera with that expression that only New Englanders can pull off: “I’m really excited, but somehow that translates to me just looking intense but sort of bored.” Joel and I were sent into spasms of nostalgia for The Old Country.
Over the past 8 years, I have been getting used to what Autumn means in San Francisco:
That’s right, as soon as the Fall Equinox happens, our weather zags to higher temperatures, leading us all rustling through our closets for the fan, and getting our kids into the shorts they’ve had little reason to wear all year. Olive went an entire week wearing nothing but her bathing suit (of which we have several, because all of our relatives cannot fathom the fact that we don’t really have the season of summer here and keep sending her them), but refusing to get in the water at the park because it is “too icky”. She did, however, proceed to eat several popsicles with singularly-minded focus, fending off all of my attempts to get a lick.
To capitalize on the only time that the weather is assured to be lovely, absolutely EVERYTHING happens in October. The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Fest, America’s Cup, The Castro Street Fair, MLB Playoff games and Fleet Week brought over one million visitors to our fair city on a single weekend. The air was crackling with excitement, and I have probably gone to more “events” in these past two weeks than I’ve been to all calendar year.
LitQuake, The Nike Women’s Marathon, Giant’s games, block parties, dance performances, preschool tours — I can’t even keep up with me! I keep having to cancel stuff I signed on for, as my life is a cornucopia of invites, on top of all the working, momming and writing that I already do. In addition to (or because of?) all of this, my husband has been sick, so I’ve been holding down the fort with cooking, cleaning, and Olive-care, and there’s only one of those I’m actually good at. (Hint: it involves the human, not the food or the stuff).
I’m exhausted, inspired, and running around with the rest of the San Franciscans to hold on to the good weather before months of rain begin and we’re all stuck inside with sopping wet socks. I am not a fan of the heat wave that came in the earlier part of the month, but mid-late October is just glorious. I have been teaching Olive to pick up the sparce leaves from the sidewalk and throw them in the air, trying in vain to re-create my childhood joy.
One thing I can do with her that I loved as a kid is visit a pumpkin patch. Olive was beside herself with excitement as we entered the abandoned lot that has been repurposed as Clancy’s Tree Farm and Pumpkin Patch, an affair that was as mind-blowing for her as it was rinky dink for me.
She ran around with her best friend, picking pumpkins and gourds, watching turkeys in their pen, and climbing in wheelbarrows to be dragged around the lot.
We went on a truly silly hay ride in a tractor, which went in circles around the lot. The Clancy staff had thrown dirty old stuffed animals in the trees to surprise the kids, which actually worked. Olive and Ophie were pointing out the gross lions and snakes, their stuffed animal fur matted with rain damage.
Even though it wasn’t the hay ride of my youth, laying on my back in the straw looking at the stratus clouds that had a language all for me, it was somehow still thrilling. I am starting to accept that I am raising a California girl, and there’s a lot to love about that. Certainly, when the blizzards hit my old hometown later this year, I will not be pining away for the East Coast. And October in San Francisco is the best month of the year. At least the last step in enjoying Fall is the same all over the country:
FURIOUSLY PREPARE FOR HALLOWEEN!
But here, we get to have Dia De Los Muertos, as well.