Sunday, September 13, 2015

Family Fall Traditions

The Autumnal Equinox, aka the first day of Fall, arrives here in ten days! The celestial equator is the imaginary north to south line in the sky above the Earth's equator. Fall in the Northern Hemisphere begins at the moment the Sun crosses this line. In St. Louis, my home town, Fall arrives this year on September 23rd at precisely 3:22 a.m. CDT.

There is so much to love about this season that will soon enough usher us into the cold of winter. The cooler, but not yet frigid, days and evenings are so welcome following the extreme heat and humidity of summer. I so much love the color changes in the Fall foliage. I even enjoy raking all the fallen leaves! Fall fashions are my favorite too, especially wrapping up in a cozy warm sweater with a cup of coffee and a good read. I could go on and on proclaiming my praise of Autumn, but instead I'll share with you a few of our family traditions. Just as we have certain Holiday customs, we also have established certain family rituals that we observe year after year. On this list are family outings that include:

- An annual trip to the apple orchards is always at the top of the list for things to do in the Fall. Nearly everyone I know enjoys a weekend afternoon picking apples at Eckert's. The main farm and orchards are located in Belleville, IL, but our family prefers the orchards at Grafton Farm. They also have a Country Store offering family favorites such as apple and pumpkin butter and apple cider too.

- Of course it just wouldn't be Fall without a trip to the pumpkin patch for some Pumpkinland fun! The farms near our home all offer hay castles, hay rides, ziplines, play areas with large slides and farm animals for the children to pet and even sometimes feed. Our favorite pumpkin patch is at Thies Farm and everyone looks forward to our annual outing to select the perfect Halloween pumpkins for our home!

- Autumn is the perfect time of year for a day trip to a State Park for a picnic lunch and hike in the woods. A trip to Pere Marquette State Park, just outside of Grafton, IL, is always on our Fall agenda! The sites along the drive are magnificent. On one side of the road is the mighty Mississippi River and the opposite side are the river bluffs covered with trees, bushes, shrubs, and wild flowers all gloriously displaying brilliant Fall colors. Following a picnic lunch it's time to stop at the Visitor's Center. There are Park Interpreters available to guide you on a hike. They share a wealth of information about the vegetation and natural wildlife, history of the Park, and even stories about the native Americans who once inhabited the land that is now Pere Marquette State Park.

- Finally, a trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, also known as Shaw's Garden, is a priority during each and every season of the year. The Gardens were originally the estate of businessman Henry Shaw and were opened to the public in 1859. The flowers are always spectacular and are breathtakingly beautiful during the Autumn season! There  is also a Children's Garden with play areas and educational exhibits. A stroll through the Botanical Gardens is definitely a highlight any day of the year!

Well, there you have it! So what are your favorite family traditions for Fall?

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