Fall Madness

An odd thing happens to me around the middle of September. I begin to get this insatiable itch for pumpkin flavoured everything, I crave caramel apple cider, and the only things I seem to want to do involve apple picking, pumpkin picking, going on hayrides, and driving out to see fall foliage. This oddly incurable condition which affects 1 in 1 Americans is aptly named Fall Madness*. 
As much as I adore England, there is no place in the world I would rather be for autumn than the eastern seaboard of the United States. I have never been able to put my finger on why, but autumn here seems to wrap you up in a well-worn blanket of colour, spices, and crisp, beautiful fall days. It has and always will be my favourite time of the year. A time when I can’t help but imagine Washington Irving’s descriptions of Sleepy Hollow, New York and think about eating all the pumpkin things, and bake with maple syrup, mace, cinnamon, and allspice.
Since I’ve arrived back in the US I have managed to do some of my favourite fall things like apple picking at the local farm, baking cookies, and yesterday I managed to add a new fall favourite to my list and went out to Longwood Gardens. Those of you who have been following my adventures for a while know how much I love being outside and love wandering around gardens. So you’ll understand when I tell you that of all the botanic gardens I’ve been to, Longwood is my most favourite. I’ve even gotten in an evening of sailing on the river.
I’ve managed to share these special days with my closest friends which has made them all the more special. Dear Reader, I implore you to get out and enjoy autumn in all its splendour. Do ALL the fall things! 

A fall staple: Pumpkin Spice Cookies with vanilla glaze.

My Fall Madness presented with a manic need to bake something pumpkin flavoured. Thankfully my nine-year old niece was over for a visit and I recruited her to help. I couldn’t stop talking about pumpkin this and pumpkin that. By the time we got to the stage of putting the dough onto the cookie sheets I finally got around to the most important question. 

I turned to my very patient niece and demanded more than asked, “You like pumpkin don’t you?”
She looked at me sympathetically, “Well, it’s not really my favourite thing.”
Suddenly the past hour flashed before my eyes. My niece had been dropping subtle hints the entire time. Saying things like, “I don’t like pumpkin pie but I do like apple pie.” I began to laugh. 
“Next time we’ll make apple spice cookies,” I said.

Sometimes Fall Madness can make you jump in the air while you are in the middle of an apple orchard.
After the pumpkin spice incident, I decided to try to hide the symptoms of my fall madness as best I could. Then the message came from my good friend, Erika. She wanted to go apple picking. I tried to contain my excitement. APPLE PICKING! THE QUINTESSENTIAL FALL ACTIVITY!
We went to the local farm during one of their fall festival weekends and meandered up and down the rows of Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious. The names of each species rang magically in our ears and we couldn’t help but pick, pick, pick. Our bags became increasingly weighed down by our bounty. Erika stopped for some decorative gourds as well. After all it IS decorative gourd season. I managed to resist the temptation of the gourds, though they seemed to sing out like the Sirens straight out of the Odyssey.

Longwood Gardens in Autumn is a site to behold.
It is as though my friends cruelly feed my Fall Madness. Just a few weekends after my apple picking trip, my best friend, Laurie suggested a visit to Longwood Gardens. We’ve already established that Longwood is my favourite botanic garden so how could I resist Longwood in the autumn. 
We wandered past the Italian Water Garden, starkly green and blue against the leaves of the trees which were just starting to turn. We skipped through the meadow and past the most beautifully orange maple tree, standing as a Fall Sentinel at the side of one of the paths. The orangery was filled with ornamental peppers and yellow Lollipop flowers. We had an amazingly decadent lunch at the 1906 restaurant where we received a taste of the most amazing apple spice tea. 
As we were leaving, Laurie convinced me to get a student membership card as it would pay itself off at the next visit. How could I resist more autumnal flowers and meanderings?
As the season presses on, I should warn that there may be another post or two involving pumpkin carving, Thanksgiving baking and cooking, and hayrides and apple cider. Fall Madness does not end until I see Santa at the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York. (I suppose that’s similar to the old adage, it ain’t over til the fat lady sings….) Fall Madness ain’t over til the Jolly Man laughs.

* I am not a medical professional. I you feel like you may be suffering from Fall Madness I suggest you contact your GP or alternatively call into your local Starbucks and order a venti Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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