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Here in Michigan, we’re in the midst of muggy 90-degree temps and sudden thunderstorms, but the plants and trees know that a change is just around the corner. The lilies droop and fade on limp yellow stems, and crinkly oak leaves scatter across the sidewalks. Even if you’re a sun-basking beach lover who’s bemoaning the chill to come, here are 5 ways to usher in autumn with joy.

5 Ways to Say Good-Bye to Summer (and Hello to Fall) we are wildness 1

1. Pull out your favorite cozy sweater (or splurge on a new one).

You know, the one that’s soft and fuzzy and feels like a favorite blanket wrapped around your shoulders. Step outside in the early morning, take a deep breath of crisp, cool air, and wade barefoot in the dewy grass. Wooly socks and shoes can wait.

2. Take a walk with a toddler.

Save your heart-pumping exercise for another time; the point is to shuffle along and stop every few feet. Delight in the discoveries. Catch the falling leaves and collect every shade of red, orange, and yellow. Kick some acorns. Play peek-a-boo with the squirrels racing up and down and around the trees. Chase a chipmunk.

5 Ways to Say Good-Bye to Summer (and Hello to Fall) we are wildness 2 apples

3. Pick apples and pumpkins.

Sure, you can buy them at your local grocery store, but if you’re lucky enough to live near an apple orchard or pumpkin patch, take the time for an outing. Get lost amongst the apple trees and climb to pluck the perfect McIntosh, Honeycrisp, or Jonagold. Wander down the rows of pumpkins, run your hands over the curves and ridges. Find the biggest, the babiest, the oddest.

4. Cook chili.

Everyone has a favorite recipe, a family recipe, an award-winning recipe. You’ve just picked some pumpkins, so here’s a new recipe to try: Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili. Savor the spiciness and share with your neighbors.

5 Ways to Say Good-Bye to Summer (and Hello to Fall) we are wildness 3 trail

5. Hit your favorite trail.

The Paint Creek Trail in metro-Detroit has something for everyone. Over eight miles of Rail-to-Trail winding along a river with a wide-enough path to accommodate walkers, joggers, bikers, and even an occasional horse. Stop along the river for a scenic rest or veer off the trail for the ultimate detour – a cider mill with fresh apple cider and cinnamon donuts. Yes, you probably already filled up on cider and donuts during #3, but autumn days are passing quickly; make the most of them.

How do you welcome fall? What’s your favorite local trail? Do you have a favorite chili recipe to share? Here’s another one to try: Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado

Kristin Lenz

Kristin Lenz

Kristin Lenz is a writer and social worker whose career has taken her from rural Appalachia to the California Bay Area to inner-city Detroit. Currently, she lives with her husband and daughter in Michigan. Her writing has been published by online literary journals including Hunger Mountain and Great Lakes Review. Learn more at