Frolicking Through Fall With The Frugalwoods
The first hesitant tendrils of fall are filtering through the air. Frugal Hound is sniffing the cool breeze expectantly and thus far, one leaf hath crunched underfoot–it was either premature in its falling or just a dead leaf, but I’ll take it!
Autumn is, without contest, the most favored of seasons for the Frugalwoods. It’s a time rife with frugal opportunity and its natural beauty is unparalleled. Fall, though an unassuming calendar event at first blush–nestled as it is between the glare of summer and the contrition of winter–deserves adulation for the noble atmospheric shift it brings about.
My adoration for the trappings of fall–pumpkins, orange things, Halloween, nutmeg–is without bounds. Anything even remotely resembling autumn is sure to be met with high praise from me. Would you fancy a list of all the reasons why? Oh good, because I made one for you!
Why Fall Gets An A+ As A Season
1) I consider autumn a harbinger of the past.
We’re reminded of the harvest, the indisputable progression of the natural world, and our utter lack of control over the passage of time. Our modern lives do much to negate each season. We’re shuttled from climate controlled home to air-conditioned car to excessively HVAC’ed office building.
It’s entirely possible we’ll spend only a scant few minutes outside, scurrying as we do from parking lot to cubicle. But nature remains oblivious of our attempts to subsist in its absence. The temperature will drop, vegetables will ripen, and our bodies will acclimate to this variance in our surroundings. At present, Mr. Frugalwoods and I live lives almost entirely divorced from the environment’s rhythm.
Our work isn’t seasonal and, other than wearing sweaters, our daily existence is ignorant of the external alternations in our environment. Something we dearly look forward to with homesteading is the incredible variation in our routines that each season will portend.
2) No climate control.
Despite our current urban lives, we try to react to the seasons as best we can within our limited city parameters. Chiefly, autumn is a time devoid of climate control. There’s no need for heat or air conditioning during these clement months of September and October. I’ve waxed poetic on the many benefits of going without artificial heating and cooling, and I do find we’re happiest with the doors and windows open and the machines decidedly shut off.
3) I can decorate!
All of my tacky–yet fabulous–fall decor trots out to deck our frugal halls. I have a penchant for decorating in accordance with each season and adorning the house with my hand-me-down pumpkins is something I look forward to every year.
4) Every vegetable imaginable is in season.
Produce is cheap and delicious as it crunches under our fall-loving teeth. We zestfully munch flavor-filled tomatoes, squash, and the panoply of harvest-y wholesomeness that springs forth.
5) Some fruit is also in season!
I’m looking at you, apples.
6) Candy corn is in season.
Oh yes, you read that right: candy corn, the most perfect of junk candies. It’s truly divine in every high-fructose corn syrup-addled way imaginable. It’s triangular (unique!), doesn’t taste remotely like corn (rebel!), is only available this time of year (rarity enhances satisfaction!), and arrives in assorted “flavors” (caramel, s’mores, candy apple, and autumn mix–never understood that last one, but I crave it all the same).
It’s been suggested to me that perhaps my adoration for this little treat is a bit too intense. After all, it is kinda gross. But I will persist. I haven’t been eating much sugar during my pregnancy, so I’ll have to ration my consumption lest I knock self into a coma. But a few tidbits of candy corn can’t hurt (right?!?).
7) The outdoors beckon.
From hiking to strolling to leaf peeping, fall offers a veritable cornucopia of en plein air delights. Watching leaves change while we climb a mountain is, without contest, our most blissful autumnal pursuit. Crisp air at the summit and brightly-hued leaves on the trail conspire to make fall the ideal season for hiking in the northeast.
But even a walk around the neighborhood explodes with wonder during this season. No one is too hot or too cold, there are ample squirrels for Frugal Hound to spy on, and the park across the street from our house will finally re-open after a year of renovations (how, you might ask, can one spend an entire year renovating a tiny city park? Some questions have no answers).
8) Free entertainment galore.
Autumn is the time of festivals. From beer fests to harvest fests to pumpkin fests to Rib Fest (a Cambridge festival featuring… ribs!) to Honk Fest (a rollicking event highlighting adult marching bands)… everywhere we turn, there’s a free event parading through our city streets.
9) You can pose for photos with vegetation.
Never is it more appropriate to plop oneself, or one’s offspring (furry or human), down next to a squash and snap a pic. I’ll be honest, I love pumpkins. They’re gorgeous, they’re orange, they’re preternaturally glossy, and, I’m going to look like one this October! Since I’ll be supremely pregnant next month, I fully intend to avail myself of the trite, yet classic, pose of pregnant-lady-with-pumpkin. Just you wait.
10) Frugal Hound receives her bi-annual bath.
While this is probably one of the darkest days on her annual hound-calendar, her autumnal bath is pretty hilarious for us. Poor Frugal Hound does not appreciate the water or the scrubbing and she resembles the most tragic of damp animals when Mr. FW hoists her into our tub. But we should all bathe at least twice a year, right?
11) The return of more varied cooking methods.
Mr. FW, being a consummate seasonal chef, relishes hauling out his crock pot, stock pot, wok pot (not really a pot), bread pot (ok that’s definitely not a pot), in order to cook in accordance with the ambient temperature in our home.
Our diet alters from summer to winter and he shies away from heartier, hotter meals all spring and summer. Hence, fall portends homemade breads, stews, soups, and other belly-warming dishes. All summer long, he barely touched the oven and very few stovetop burners were ever alight. As we progress into colder temps, our meals will heat commensurately.
12) Frugal Hound’s Halloween costume.
13) Notorious nostalgia.
For me, fall delivers heavy, heady doses of nostalgia for my childhood. I remember each Halloween costume, each pumpkin patch trip, and each crackling fire in our fireplace. I did grow up in southern California, so admittedly my memories are a tad tinged with the idyllic autumns I read about in books.
Now that we reside in Americana-laden New England, I can live out my fantasies of the quintessential, picturesque fall replete with apple picking, dazzling leaves, pumpkins ripening on the vine, early frosts, and ever-present turtlenecks and coats masking Halloween costumes.
I can’t wait to introduce Babywoods to all these glories of the season. I’m thrilled her birthday will fall in the fall since it’s truly the time of year when I feel most invigorated.
Being Seasonal Is Frugal
A wonderful thing about adhering to the innate offerings of each season is that, by and large, partaking of the richness is entirely free of charge. When we live in accordance with the seasons, and don’t try to fight back with our controlling human ways, we can enjoy the natural progression of life.
Waking up to a chilly, unheated home enables us to truly savor our warm morning coffee and sweatshirts. Eating seasonally is less expensive and means we experience flavors once a year, which serve to enhance the pleasure we derive thanks to the uniqueness of it. Getting outside as much as possible before deepest winter sets in gives us a chance to appreciate how marvelous the waning sun feels.
Finding opportunities to allow nature to unfold in our lives creates an existence where we’re in tune with the rhythms humans were intended to follow. It’s when we struggle against these traditional permutations that we’re forced to spend money. If we insist on wearing t-shirts year-round, we’ll have to pay handsomely for heating. If we insist upon eating the same foods every month, we’ll be charged for the privilege. And if we view every season and event as an excuse or requirement to spend money, then we’ll do just that.
But it’s entirely possible to celebrate the seasons, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all sundry holidays and festivals for very little money. After all, the greatest pleasures in this life are entirely free.