By Areesha Nouman

As I sit here at my desk in my bedroom, on a Friday evening in late September, hunched over my laptop as my fingers furiously fly over the keyboard, I can’t help but become distracted once in a while. Not by Youtube, or endless scrolling through Pinterest, or by literally any other thing besides homework surrounding me. This time of the year, though, everything that my mind is excited about is focused on one thing: autumn. Since mid-September, when fall FINALLY decided to come to Cleveland after months of intermittent sunshine and random bursts of rain, I have not been able to get enough of it. Even though it’s only been a few days of that REAL autumn season – (you guys know what I’m talking about: the breeze, the random pumpkins spontaneously appearing on people’s porches, and just that feeling of fall hovering in the air) – the fact that my favorite season is finally here is something I cannot get enough joy out of. 

Thoughts and memories of this breathtaking time of the year fill my mind as I let myself spiral into this tunnel of procrastination. The years of going to pumpkin patches, picking out the perfect round, vibrant pumpkins for the front porch, and the field trips to apple farms, where we would compete to see who picked the brightest, most red apples, come rushing back to my mind. 

As I close my eyes, ignoring the impatient computer screen in front of me, I can almost taste the sweet, sugary, sticky apple fritters my mom would bring home from the farmer’s market (I actually haven’t had those in FOREVER, and now I’m craving them), and the cold, tangy sensation of apple cider as we drank it and watched the leaves flutter down outside. Most importantly, I am suddenly struck with the nostalgia of my favorite autumn dessert that I literally forgot about for a while: caramel apples. I remember, every single fall, I would beg my mom for what felt like hours at the grocery store, pleading and bribing and making up what I thought were amazing reasons to get caramel apples (“I literally did like ten hours of math today,” I promise I’ll do the laundry when we get home). Sometimes, but tragically not all the time, she would agree and I would come home with these sugar-packed, sticky, processed candied apples that I thought were the best thing to ever grace this planet:

Even though it’s been a couple years since I’ve had one, I can almost feel the soft texture of the caramel, the sour, acidic apple contrasted with the chocolate, and the way I would always take the apple off the stick and cut it into slices that I delicately, slowly bit into, indulging in the decadence of what was almost going to stay on the shelf of the grocery store unless I (falsely) assured my mom I would do hours’ worth of extra math.

Okay, enough talk about fall desserts. It’s 1:51 pm, I literally just had lunch, and now I’m surfing the internet for fall dessert recipes that I know I don’t have time to make. I feel like I’m giving the false impression that autumn-themed food is the only thing that I enjoy about the season, but in reality, there is so much more. Autumn activities and time spent together over the past years were some of the most enjoyable experiences I had with my friends and family. While I could sit here for hours naming them all, my parents would probably start wondering why they haven’t seen me all day, so I’ll just condense it down to some of my few favorite experiences:

First of all, apple farms. Ever since I was in third grade, every year I would go to Mapleside Farms either with my school or with my family. The apple picking, the free cider, the hay rides, and the corn maze were only a few of the reasons why it was my most looked-forward event in the fall. Being able to come home with as many apples as I wanted, having so much fun with my friends on the tractor rides, and borderline getting completely lost in the corn maze never got old for me. While we haven’t been to Mapleside Farms since the pandemic, it is definitely something I want to do in the future (maybe this fall!!)

Second, as I already mentioned, pumpkin patches. I vividly remember going each year with my parents and my younger brother, picking out mini pumpkins to take home, and going on even more hay rides. And, when we would come home from the pumpkin patch, I would get out my acrylic paints and paintbrushes, set my carefully selected pumpkin down on the floor in our basement, and paint away, creating a hideous monstrosity but what I thought was a masterpiece at the time. After completely dousing my poor pumpkin with an assortment of colors, proudly setting it on the front porch despite my mom’s likely disappointment in me gave me a sense of accomplishment like no other.

And finally, farmer’s markets. I know we already had the whole discussion about fall foods, but I can’t stress enough how amazing farmer’s markets in the fall are. From being able to buy fresh apples and other produce, to finding all these cool foods and items that you would never see at a normal grocery store, going to a farmer’s market in autumn is such a fun, exciting experience that everyone gets to enjoy. Whether you’re more of an apple pie person, or you’d rather opt for cool-looking squash and pumpkins, there’s something for everybody.

Okay, to wrap things up, autumn has always been a season that I cherish because of the nostalgia, happiness, and all the exciting activities that pop up everywhere. From fall desserts to pumpkin patches to simply the amazing feeling of autumn wind or the sound of leaves crunching below your feet, it’s the season that takes me back to memories of past autumns and all the fun I had back then. Sure, my homework is still waiting to be done, but for now, reminiscing on the sentiment of autumn and my enthusiasm for what this year’s season has to come is something worth reflecting upon. Reflecting on the beauty of the fall season will hopefully allow not only me, but everybody, to have the best taste of autumn yet. Happy autumn!!

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