Autumn has finally arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. Another summer has passed: Now nature declines gracefully toward the long, peaceful slumber of winter.
It’s a great time of year to be observant. If you’re inclined — like most of the people reading More Minimal — to a simpler lifestyle, then autumn is the season for you. Mother Nature makes it easy for the aspiring minimalist. Just follow her lead over the coming months, and everything will fall into place.
See how nature unburdens herself. It begins in the garden and in the fields, with harvests large and small. Their purpose complete, the rows are left to marauding crows and the compost pile. Then the trees take a turn, releasing their leaves to the retreating sun. All of this is by design: October’s muddy leaves and cold puddles become next May’s wildflowers. Freed from the tedium of photosynthesis, trees gird themselves against the coming freeze. Nature puts things down so that she may take them up again. Casting things away is the precursor of growth.
There’s a close connection between living simply and being mindful of the changing seasons. To get you into the heart of autumn, here are a dozen little seasonal delights. No doubt you’ll think of others. Here’s wishing you the bounty of this harvest season.
Twelve Autumn To-Dos
Walk, hike, or ride your bicycle. The most basic way to enjoy the season is to get outdoors. That animated falling leaf desktop background on your computer is pretty nifty, but it’s not nature. Find a real leaf-covered sidewalk, street, or trail. There’s no substitute for a brisk breeze or the scent of chimney smoke on a cool evening. Don’t miss out.
Be ready for a flash picnic. You’ll know the first evening of autumn when it comes. That chill in the air? Have a basket and picnic supplies ready to go. Decide in advance where you’d like to spread your blanket, then drop everything and head out to greet the arrival of the season.
Find a stand of trees and begin photographing them daily. Digital photography is great for recording the unhurried phases of autumn. Find some photogenic trees, pick an easily identifiable location for a camera stand, and start shooting every day or two. In a few weeks, you’ll have a colorful perspective of the changing season.
Visit a farmer’s market. Autumn is harvest time. Go and appreciate its bounty, color, and variety at your local farmer’s market. Local Harvest can help locate one in your community. Bonus points if you take this opportunity to join a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Preserve food. Canning, freezing, drying herbs — it’s all part of bringing in the harvest. To your homegrown veggies or a bushel or two from a local green market and put them up for winter. Fresh preserving a great way to eat healthier, save money, and appreciate the distinctive character of autumn.
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Find a field and watch it being harvested. This is easier for some people than others, but get away from the blacktop and out to where things are grown if it’s at all possible. We’ve largely lost touch with the process of bringing food to the table. Watching the combines bring in a field of soybeans or corn is a great way to reconnect. It puts a new perspective on your plate.
Host a viewing party on the night of the Harvest Moon. Here’s an old custom ripe for revival: moon viewings. This year’s Harvest Moon falls on Sunday, October 4th. Invite over a few friends, pour some wine, and bring out a few seasonal goodies beneath a brilliant orange moon.
Make mulled cider. Scent, taste, and the season all go together. It would be tough to find a more distinctively autumnal beverage than mulled cider. Fill your home with its spicy smell. Never made mulled cider before? Cooks.com has dozens of recipe suggestions.
Forage for walnuts or pecans. Maybe it’s cranberries where you live, or some other kind of nut. The idea is to get outdoors and find something wild to eat. Bringing kids? Take some store-bought snacks, too.
Set up a late-season compost pile. Composting slows down as temperatures fall, but you can’t miss the opportunity to stock next spring’s pile with all those fallen leaves. If it’s still warm where you are, feel free to get them started. Otherwise, cover your leaf piles loosely and they’ll keep through winter. Remember that an inch or two of raked leaves is a great natural weed deterrent for resting plant beds.
Bring autumn leaves indoors. Start a leaf collection with your kids. Make a table decoration or autumnal door wreath. Bringing the season’s reds, yellows, and oranges indoors is a great way to deepen your autumn experience. The nice thing about these collections and decorations is that they can all be taken out to the compost heap when you’re done with them.
Attend a high school football game. Admittedly, this is a very American way to celebrate autumn. There will be plenty of big pro and college games in the coming weeks. But if you want to really appreciate football for what it is, take in some high school action. The smaller the school the better, and it’s best if you have no connection to the teams. So pick a tiny academy somewhere, root for one team one half, then switch sides. Enjoy the game — and don’t miss the bands at halftime.
This article originally appeared on More Minimal.