I think if we all wish for cooler weather each time a leaf falls from a tree, then maybe, just maybe, autumn will peak her head into our part of the country. Until that actually happens, search for other signs of fall, like the orange pumpkin patches that are appearing outside local businesses, scarecrows and hay bales decorating front lawns, ripe persimmons and pears bending limbs with their weight, and acorns raining when the wind blows. You might even find one or two darkened muscadine grapes still clinging to the vine if the birds or squirrels missed them.
It's almost time, too, to pick a hardwood tree in the neighborhood to watch diligently as chlorophyll drains from each leaf, revealing the stunning autumn shades that were there all along, just waiting for their time of glory. Though that's not quite the scientifically accurate explanation, watch for the arrival of those beautiful colors throughout the month of October.
While you're waiting for cool weather and autumn shades, celebrate these October holidays with family to create lasting memories with those you love:
Sausage Day - Pick an evening when the temperatures drop slightly to prepare an overnight breakfast casserole. Work together in the kitchen to make this yummy dish.
Cook grits according to package directions using ½ cup of grits, 2 cups of water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Let the grits cool slightly, then add 4 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese, stirring until the cheese melts. Set aside to cool.
Brown 2 pounds of sausage; drain, cool and crumble. Stir the sausage into the grits and allow both to cool to room temperature.
In another bowl, combine 4 beaten eggs, 1 cup of milk and a dash of garlic salt. Add the egg mixture to the cooled grits mixture and pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, let the casserole stand on the counter for 15 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy!
National School Bus Safety Week - Review school bus safety rules as well as manners and kindness for the driver and fellow bus riders. Then play a game outside with a chalk drawing of a school bus.
Draw the outline of a bus and add two rows of seats. Be sure to leave an aisle in the middle. Number the seats in order (for little ones) or randomly (for older siblings) and play a math game.
Have one person toss a pebble or bean bag toward the bus seats. If playing the game with little ones, the first person to shout out the numeral of the bus seat in which the bean bag landed is the winner of that round. For games with older kids, decide on a calculation prior to tossing the pebble, like "add 5" or "multiply by 3." Then toss the pebble, and the first person to correctly decipher the answer using the seat number where the pebble landed and the pre-arranged calculation is the winner of that round. Play several rounds and keep score to see who is the math whiz for the day.
Columbus Day - History.com contains interesting pictures and videos of Christopher Columbus' famous voyages across the ocean.
Build a "boat" with blankets and pillows on the den floor, and climb aboard to peruse the Internet about the life and times of various explorers during Columbus' day. Do you think you would have enjoyed traveling with Columbus? Tell tales of life aboard his boat after learning new bits of information from your research.
Do Something Nice Day - Now here's the perfect holiday for 365 days a year! Why waste this celebration on just one day? As a family, talk about nice things to do for others: family members, friends, acquaintances, teachers, gas station attendants, department store cashiers, carhops, restaurant servers, the driver of the car ahead, the police officer on his or her beat, the person on the other end of the phone or a random stranger passing in the mall.
Do something nice for at least one person, but preferably several people, every day. Work hard to turn the practice into a habit, and share at the dinner table some niceties each evening.
Pumpkin Day - Make a pumpkin craft to celebrate the season. Use a disposable, cardboard bowl for the base of the pumpkin. Flip the bowl over and glue on pieces of orange tissue paper until the bottom is completely covered.
Have an adult poke a hole in one edge of the bowl, then push a brown craft pipe cleaner through the hole and twist together to resemble a stem.
Trace the child's handprint onto green construction paper to create a "leaf" for the pumpkin. Cut out the handprint and roll each finger of the shape around a pencil to curl the tips just a bit. Glue the palm part of the handprint on the inside of the bowl, leaving the curled fingertips protruding near the stem. Voila - a crafty pumpkin to decorate the table.
A new season brings fresh celebrations, a slightly different wardrobe, a harvest of unique foods and noticeable changes in landscape. Don't let the days slip by without noticing the fall transformations, and celebrate each one of them with those you love.
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.