Growing up in Missouri, many of my fondest memories take place during the season of fall. As a young child, I remember carving pumpkins with my siblings at our kitchen table, collecting red and golden colored leaves while hiking around D.C. Rogers Lake with my dad, camping and hayrides at Stapleton's farm with my fellow Girl Scouts, and maybe the best of all - the smells and tastes of Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving always meant a full house for our family. Most of my mom's side of the family would visit for Thanksgiving and the weekend following we would celebrate Christmas early together. My mom enjoyed hosting and having everyone together, even if it was just once a year. It was a tradition that ended once both of my grandparents passed away, as many traditions do, but the memories remain.
As a teenager, fall meant football games with friends on cool October nights, homecoming festivities - float building in a classmate's garage after school, marching with the band during the halftime show, and the homecoming dance following the game. It meant trail rides, hoodies and jeans, apple cider, s'mores, and still - pumpkin carving.
Now that I'm an adult and have children of my own, my perspective is clearly different, yet my fondness of the season the same. I love helping my children dig seeds out of their pumpkins before they begin carving faces out of them. I love baking chocolate chip pumpkin muffins for them and helping them pick out Halloween costumes. I love the smell of the apple cinnamon candle burning on the coffee table. I love the warmth and coziness of sweaters and tall boots and pumpkin spice lattes.
While living in South Carolina for the last few years, fall wasn't quite the same as we were used to growing up in Missouri. The seasons in the South aren't as "distinct" as they are in Missouri. Fall was still fairly warm and the trees weren't as colorful. It really didn't feel much different than summer, actually. We weren't far from the Smokey Mountains, though, so we ended up taking a couple trips there each fall. We enjoyed long drives through the beautiful scenery of the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to The Orchard at Altapass to pick apples. There we would enjoy a hayride, sip on apple cider, and listen to stories about the history of the orchard. There it felt like fall.
We made a lot of good friends and memories in South Carolina, but I'm glad to be home. I'm glad to back in Missouri, where the seasons are distinctly four and fall is still the most beautiful. But most importantly, I'm glad to be closer to family, with whom the best memories are made.
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