Fab Five Fall Favorites

Ahhh! It’s fall again. My favorite time of year in New England! The first signs of fall come as the temperature starts to drop at night. As the air gets crisp, so do the apples. Even before the leaves turn, we are off to the apple orchard. Running up the hill to beat the rest of the crowd, we grab as many of the Honey Crisp apples as we can find for school snacks. When our bags can’t hold anymore apples, we trudge down the hill like pack mules. “There’s no more room in the car,” I insist. “We can’t take anymore apples home.” We are off to make all of our favorite apple dishes. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what does 3 apples do?

After we have secured our apples for the season, we turn our attention to the leaves. When the leaves change colors, it is as if we are driving through a Graham Gercken or Gary Kim landscape–spectacular everywhere we go. A trip to the post office brightens my day as I take in bright reds, yellows and oranges. Just when I thought that I had seen all of foliage that there was to see, we went to Santa’s Village in the White Mountains for Columbus Day weekend. I was mesmerized during the drive up through the mountains. It was more magnificent than any landscape that I have ever seen. The pies de résistance was our Ferris Wheel ride. As our car rounded the top of the wheel, I was struck by one of the most breath taking views that I have ever seen. The mountainside ablaze in orange, yellow and red with evergreens mixed in to make the colors pop even more.

And, the leaves become the greatest source of entertainment for my son and his friends.   While we are raking them into neat piles, they can’t resist jumping into them a few times. As a grand finally, my son throws the leaves in the air, creating a shower of red, orange and yellow upon our heads. Dancing and laughing, he runs in circles under the shower of leaves. What joy!

Another fall favorite of every child in New England is Pumpkin Carving. Covering the kitchen table with newspaper, we have a family competition for the best decorated pumpkins. In order to inspire my son and his friends, I brought them to The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI. Who knew that pumpkins could be a work of art? Thousands of carved pumpkins from traditional Halloween witches and haunted houses to a trip through the United States and throughout the world. Just when I thought I had seen enough I walked past a pumpkin Elvis and pumpkin The Beatles. For the big finish, they had fog with the largest pumpkins that I have ever seen made even eerier by a light show and spooky noises. This amazing show is a must see.

The main event in our fall is Thanksgiving. Beginning with the school Thanksgiving play with William Bradford and Miles Standish (played by my son) planning the first thanksgiving dinner with the Indians. After weeks of practice, we march into the classroom and take our seats. Each trying to find the best angle for our cameras. We all clap loudly and cheer for our children. So very proud of them all, we commend the teacher for their performance, and leave for Thanksgiving with smiles on our faces, knowing that our child was the best. After the school play we travel to family for Thanksgiving dinner and the annual family football. Hopefully, this year we can skip the trip to the emergency room. The family story is that my husband was tackled by 6 huge guys and not 10 nieces and nephews in a pillow fight. Shhh! At least that’s what we have been telling everyone.

 

Peanut Meets Ronald McDonald

“Today’s the Day!” I yelled running down the stairs for breakfast with the enthusiasm of Christmas morning. “I finally get to meet Ronald McDonald,” I screamed barely able to contain my excitement. Plopping into my seat at the kitchen today, I started gulping my cereal. “Peanut, Slow down!” my mother insisted. “You’ll get a stomach ache!” I was so focused on my goal of getting to the McDonalds’ opening that I couldn’t hear her, finishing my breakfast in record time.

Running upstairs, I brushed my teeth quickly. Then, I searched my closet for my best outfit. I had to look perfect to meet Ronald McDonald. Jumping out of my pajamas, I tried on my velvet dress from Christmas. “No this just won’t do,” I said throwing this dress on the bed. Continuing to rifle through my closet, I found my Cinderella princess costume. “Yes that is it!” I blurted excitedly as I threw the dress over my head.

When my mother entered my room, she raised an eyebrow asking me, “Are you sure you want to wear that to McDonalds?” Offended that she did not like my choice, I shook my head. “Zip my back please,” I requested, turning away from her. With my dress zipped, I turned my attention to my hair. Not just any braid would do. “Please give me a French braid,” I asked my mother. Finishing the braid, she said “there you look beautiful.” To complete the ensemble, I slipped my feet into my matching Cinderella ballet slippers. “Perfect,” I said and turned for the door.

Rallying the family, I ran through the house yelling, “Let’s go, let’s goooooo!” After what seemed like an eternity, they finally boarded the big yellow station wagon. To get the party started, I began singing like The Beatles “We all ride in the yellow submarine.” I was soon joined by my sister and brothers.

After we finished singing, I started frequently asking “How many more miles?” This was one of the longest 90 minutes of our lives. When I wasn’t asking about the miles, I was bouncing in my seat from the excitement. I was barely contained and driving my brothers crazy. They kept grabbing my braid to jerk me back into my seat. “Ouch!” I cried. Looking up, my mother said sternly, “don’t pull her hair!”

As we turned the corner and the golden arches came into view, I heard angels sing “Ah, Ah, Ah.” Jumping out of my seatbelt, I screamed “We’re here, we’re here!” My father barely had time to stop before I leaped out of the car to run for Ronald McDonald. Screeching to a halt, I ran into a long line of children waiting to see Ronald. “Oh, no! Where did all of these kids come from?” I whined. Without a choice, I joined the long line of children waiting to see Ronald.

Tapping my toes while I stood in line for 45 minutes, I was speechless when I finally reached Ronald. He was so tall and handsome in person. I found myself looking down at his enormous red shoes. Searching for the words to say, I started with “Umh, Umh.”

As they were pushing me to leave, I blurted out “wait! I have to tell Ronald McDonald that he’s the greatest.” Before I could finish, the Hamburglar raced in and grabbed a burger out of Ronald’s hands. “How dare he steal from Ronald?” I hollered. When he stopped running to hold up the burger and taunt Ronald, I lunged at the Hamburglar’s legs. Wrapping myself around his legs to stop him, I yelled “Quick Ronald grab your burger. I got him!” Stunned, Ronald was not sure what to do. My mom jumped in to save the situation. Pulling on my arms, she insisted “Peanut let go of the Hamburglar.” Shaking my head, I said emphatically “No, he stole Ronald’s burger. He needs to go to jail.”

Just when the situation seemed hopeless, Officer Big Mac walked in with the handcuffs to take the Hamburglar to jail. Once the Hamburglar was safely secured and handcuffed to Officer Big Mac, I released his legs and stood up. “He’s all yours Officer. I did my best to hold him for you,” I said proudly. Officer Big Mac nodded his head to me, and reached his hand out to shake my hand. But, the moment that I will never forget is when I turned around to see Ronald McDonald reaching into his sleeve and pulling out flowers. He smiled and handed them to me with a coupon for a free Happy Meal. Best day ever!