“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
― Lauren DeStefano, Wither
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
This past week, fall has finally come to the island — and I am feeling super nostalgic.
The weather has been crisp and cool with clear skies, and it breaks my heart that I have to be at work (I know you know what I’m talkin’ about). I’ve been staring out my window imagining what I would do with a day off, and my mind always goes back to Michigan. I don’t care what anybody says, Michigan does autumn best.
The drive down any of the back streets near my neighborhood takes my breath away every time. Vibrant colors of yellow, orange, red and maroon cover and surround the road, and I find myself driving slower just to take it all in, not wanting to rush through the picturesque scene. Something you MUST do is drive to an apple orchard. The orchard I have gone to for years now is VerHages Fruit Farm and Cider Mill, where you can go apple picking, you can watch apple cider being made, eat their fresh donuts, purchase caramel apples, go on a tour of their property, and even ride a zip line. Check out the link because they have a lot more awesome things there, too! The farm is gorgeous, and it’s nearly impossible to leave there without taking home a jug of their fresh cider and a big bag of homemade donuts. For those of you who know me, you know that my favorite food in the entire world are donuts (not kidding). Here they offer apple cinnamon, blueberry, buttermilk, cherry, devils food, plain and pumpkin — and they are all super addicting.
You should also go pick up a pumpkin on your perfect Michigan fall day. In Kalamazoo there is the famous Gene the Pumpkin Man who has a farm of pumpkins in all different shapes and sizes. Gene is also known for wearing all orange and driving his bright orange Cadillac year round. You can also find your perfect pumpkin on many of the back roads from small farmers, their pumpkins and gourds displayed on the side of the road with an honor-system money box where you drop in your few dollars for whatever you purchase. At home you can drink your cider and carve your pumpkins, paint faces on them, or just cut them up and bake them for pumpkin pie/muffins/bread/etc. Obviously pumpkin carving (and fall) wouldn’t be the same without baking the seeds. I grew up with the classic oil and salted recipe, but here are a ton of other easy options if you’re feeling more adventurous!
And finally, of course, there’s the special autumn coffee situation. You know what’s coming: Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. Nothing screams fall like this once-a-year liquid comfort. Thick, creamy and spicy with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top = get me in a cozy sweater and thick scarf so I can curl up outside a coffee shop with a good book or magazine. For those of you who aren’t big coffee drinkers, there’s always the hot and spicy chai lattes or teas, as well as a hot caramel apple cider (my favorite from Water Street Coffee Joint, made with their homemade Dolce de Leche sauce).
Not living in Michigan anymore (or the USA for that matter), I don’t get to experience most of the comforts from home (although my moms are awesome and recently mailed me candy corn!); however, I do get to experience how people on this side of the world ring in the autumn season. Some of the trees start to change color, so when I look into the mountains I can see patches of red and orange. Pumpkins are definitely in season, and I’m really looking forward to baking pumpkin everything until the beginning of December. I’m also extremely happy that oyster season is back! There is a restaurant here on the island that serves a giant pot of steamed oysters in their shell, as well as a to-die-for oyster pajeon (like a savory pancake). Unfortunately, Pumpkin Spiced lattes do not exist here (although, I just read that if you get one pump chai and one pump white chocolate in a latte, it tastes just like pumpkin spice. Will be trying this ASAP!). What Starbucks does offer for their specialty fall drink here in Korea is a Caramel Chestnut Latte which has a smooth, smokey flavor.
Needless to say, I’m enjoying the transition from shorts and sandals to sweaters and jeans. What do you do to honor the fall season?