Fall (or Autumn to my British friends) is my favourite time of year in America. The colours on the trees here are spectacular – reds and oranges and golds – brighter and more vibrant than any I’ve seen in England. But then, I’ve yet to see a proper horse chestnut or conker on the ground here. I miss conker fights! Now I’m coming up on my second year living here through Fall – not counting the times I’ve been here while on holiday – I thought I’d list out my favourite American activities for Fall *cough* Autumn *cough* Fall.
People go nuts for decorations here. Ever since I discovered the joys of the colour-themed aisles of Party City (Why is it an entire city-sized population of party accessories?! Why not just a village?), I’ve been collecting holiday-themed paraphernalia. This year marks the return of the sparkly pumpkins whose eyes light up/change colour. However, some houses’ exteriors are a sight to behold, with giant moving and talking decorations, projections, lawn spiders – you name it. These committed people spend THOUSANDS on their Halloween decorations. I wish this had caught on in the UK as much as Christmas did as I would’ve loved to have seen this kind of insane commitment growing up. There’s a house near us that starts decorating its front yard in AUGUST and raises a good deal of money for charity from bypassers who are compelled to stop, get out of their cars in awe and take in the fearsome sight of just that many skeletons.
Pick your own pumpkin at a pumpkin patch! This was a completely novel experience to me but I love that you can choose one out of a whole bunch. And they’re not just orange, they’re green, grey and white, and come in all different shapes and sizes.
Then take your pumpkin of choice home and carve that thing to within an inch of its creepy face. Chuck in an LED candle for effect. Immediately dispose of the innards (they smell vile), but fry the ‘meat’ in brown sugar and cinnamon to make pumpkin fritters. Yum.
Candles, room sprays, bubble bath, pie, spiced coffee… the Americans put pumpkin essence in everything and it smells and tastes bloody delicious.
It’s like a hedge maze, but this maize (geddit) is invariably taller and more difficult to reach the centre. Plus it’ll be on a farm, not a country estate. It’s a muddy adventure.
Huh? Yes, correct. An APPLE CANNON. Load an apple into a cannon, aim it at a target, fire, and watch the oh-so satisfying results as fragments of apple smash and explode everywhere in a pulpy mess.
Haunted Hay Rides
I guess this is kind of the American equivalent of a haunted walking tour, except no history, no ghosts and a crazed (actor) lunatic coming at you with a (fake) chainsaw as you grip on to the side of the cattle truck for dear life. Not for the faint-hearted.
Enter if you dare: these live action ‘houses’ are basically film sets with actors jumping out at you, and who are paid to scare the living daylights out at you. I did this last year at the Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, where each studio was converted into a horror film. Once you realise the actors aren’t allowed to touch you, it’s almost bearable, but still bloody terrifying. The Stranger Things haunted house was insanely good.
Trick or Treat
I’ve still never, ever done this myself, nor will I be participating this year. However, in fear I bought a bucket of candy in case anyone comes begging.
Dress up (or fancy dress as I used to call it) in the confined space of a house party is always fun. In the past, I’ve followed a theme of ‘the beautiful and the damned’ with costumes such as Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe etc. Think less zombie, more historical. This year’s is a surprise/I haven’t decided/or even looked yet.
Now the weather’s a little cooler, it’s easier to hike without sweating a bath. Crunch your way through trails and breathe in the woods, forests and lakes around you. I did this recently at a trip to a summer camp. And by hiking the Appalachian Trail across Northern New Jersey. Ahhhh. Nature.
Adopt a Black Cat
Show some feline fondness towards the lesser-adopted black cats (much cuter than tabbies anyway IMHO). Here is a picture of my beloved cat, Pepe, one All Hallow’s Eve. I rest my case.