A subtle, slight drop in overwhelming temperatures this past week gave us a hint that autumn is indeed around the corner, though it seems to be coming rather slowly. The unhurried pace of the impending season gives us ample time to enjoy the remaining days of summer and watch diligently for signs of fall.
Pick a tree in the neighborhood to watch daily for new colors. Observe farmers' fields for changes. Look for scarecrow sightings, pumpkin patch signs and orange produce on the shelves. Pull out the lightweight jackets from the closet in preparation for cooler evenings. Be intentional with family members as you welcome and celebrate the next season on the calendar. Choose some of the zany but real holidays below or invent autumn adventures of your own to celebrate with those you love.
National Mushroom Day — Have you seen circles of mushrooms in the grass after a particularly rainy day? Those are called "fairy rings." A fairy ring is a naturally occurring circle or arc of mushrooms. An old, old folktale proclaims that fairies come out in the middle of the night to dance in the circle, and the fungi follows the footsteps of the fairies. Biologists have a different explanation, but nevertheless, fairy rings are fun to look for and even more fun to create imaginary stories to accompany their sightings. Because Play-Doh Day is faithfully observed and celebrated in the month of September by revelers across the nation, combine the two holidays for this fun activity. Shape and design mushrooms from Play-Doh and stand the fungi features in a circle on the table. Design, color and cut out pictures of fun and fancy fairies. Glue each one onto a wooden craft stick and use bits of Play-Doh on the bottom of the sticks to make the fairies stand. Place the fairies inside the mushroom ring to dance the night away after you've retired for the evening.
National Clean Hands Week — Wash your hands, talk about the importance of cleanliness and then create a fun fall craft to decorate the family room. On a white sheet of poster board, work together as a family to fingerpaint a brown tree trunk with several brown branches. Wash off the brown paint and go for a family nature walk while the paint dries. When you return, have everyone wash their hands again and dip them into paint, using fall colors like orange, yellow and red. Press the open, painted hand onto the branches of the tree to create a beautiful, fall-colored tree with handprint leaves. Wash hands after each color and at the end of the painting spree. When the paint dries completely, hang the family fall tree in the den to admire throughout September.
National Punctuation Day — Where would we be without the comma, semi-colon or question mark? A world without punctuation would be disastrous! Take turns writing short stories with no punctuation and no capital letters. Hand your story to someone else in the family to read aloud and see how difficult it is to communicate without punctuation. Oh, and be sure to thank an English teacher this month, too!
Checkers Day — Play this new, edible game of checkers to crown the checker-champion for your family. Cover a checkerboard with plastic wrap. Tape the wrap to the board to help it stay in place. Use freshly washed and dried broccoli flowerets and carrot slices for the playing pieces. Set the game up as usual, except when one player's vegetable "checker" jumps another vegetable "checker," the player gets to dip the veggie in ranch dressing and nibble for a snack. The player with food left at the end of the game is the winner.
National Hummingbird Day — Purchase hummingbird feeders to hang in the yard. Place the feeders in an easily visible location. Choose times to sit outside — on the porch or sidewalk, or on a blanket — in the evenings or early mornings and watch for hummingbirds. Take guesses on who will spot the first hummingbird of the season. Research hummingbirds online and look for videos of the spectacular birds in flight, in slow motion. Look for the iridescent colors of this magnificent creature throughout the coming days and months. And don't forget to refill the feeder when necessary.
Make it an autumn to remember as you meander into cooler temperatures. Be watchful of scarecrows and hummingbirds and fairy rings and the changing of the seasons. Punctuate the month of September with much merriment and adventure with those you love. Until another month!
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.