Fall. Ah, my absolute favorite time of the year. The kids are in school, the heat of the summer is finally slipping away, and there are all too many fun things to do.
I've always loved the fall. Sure, springtime can be pretty glorious, but growing up in Nebraska I learned long ago that we cannot count on our weather to deliver us the same kind of satisfaction as a crisp fall day. There's nothing like those days that start off chilly with low humidity (always a good indication of a good hair day!) and turn warm with blue skies framing the brilliant changing colors in the trees. It honestly makes me happy just thinking about it.
In my family, we try to get down to Nebraska City at the beginning of each October. We pack a lunch and head south for a day of first walking through Arbor Lodge (still thrilling to me after first visiting it when I was four or five) followed by a picnic in the park, lots of time exploring the beautiful trail through the forest at Arbor Day Farm, and finally, picking apples and pumpkins. Some of my favorite pictures of my boys are from that annual trip.
In more recent years, my husband has taken each boy separately down to Lincoln for a Husker football game and a day experiencing tailgating, the energy of the fans, and one-on-one time with dad. My older son claims not to care much about football, but even he cannot deny the excitement that emulates from that campus on a perfect fall day.
A few weeks ago, the four of us had the opportunity to head to Lincoln for game day with a friend of ours. It was the perfect set up. Our friend has a "Go Big Red" bus that we'd travel down in and an excellent tailgating spot next to Architecture Hall on campus. It would be a long day. We were leaving at 9 am for a 2:30 game, and we didn't anticipate getting back until 9 that night. But even I, who spent four years on UNL’s campus and never went to a football game, was ready for a day with the family, friends and 90 thousand others who come together to show their Husker pride. Yes, even if you are not a fan, it is something to behold.
The day was perfect. We started off with jackets and by the time game time rolled around, we peeled those off and lathered ourselves in sunscreen. We ate more food than I probably do in an entire weekend, enjoyed some adult and kid-friendly beverages, tossed around the football, walked around campus and downtown, met new friends and saw plenty of old ones, and soaked in the vitality of the entire scene. As we drove home that night with my youngest leaning against me softly snoring, I committed that we had now found yet another fall tradition.
More leaves gracefully drift from the trees each day. I've harvested the last of the tomatoes from what seemed this year to be the never-ending growing season. We're down to two final games in our soccer season. The final home football game for the high school is tomorrow. I spent last weekend "changing around" my closet. I've started pulling out and inspecting boots and coats. We've had a fall campout. I wore a fleece jacket as I sat on my patio talking with my husband last night (and hung it in my cubby knowing I'll be using it again tonight). I've now officially worn jeans everyday for the last week. Everything that I love about autumn seems to be upon me and over before I know it.
Luckily, I know we have at least another 3 weeks of the glory of fall before that old man winter starts sticking his head around the corner waiting for his turn. And, if we're really lucky, mother nature will bless us with plenty more opportunities to make fires on the beach, take long walks, sit outside and read, and savor this weather to the very last drop.
Get outside. Enjoy it while it lasts!