I’m not sure why or when it happened, but in recent years fall has acquired quite the bad rep. Instead of maintaining its notoriety for being one of the most strikingly beautiful times of the year, this season (likely much to its dismay) has instead become synonymous with the word “basic” and the stereotypical “white girl.”
If enjoying the odd pumpkin-flavored drink, taking pictures of the changing leaves, and finding delight in cozying up in sweats under a heavy wool blanket and indulging in Freeform’s “31 Nights of Halloween” makes me one of those so-called Basic White Girls, then I’ll wholeheartedly identify with that stereotype. I’ll dive headfirst into that sh*t.
My name is Marissa, and I’m a fall-loving, foliage-seeking Basic White Girl.
Maybe it’s due to the fact that most of my life up until this point has been void of the wonderful cliche things that define fall (think crisp ugg-boot-wearing weather and autumnal foliage), or perhaps because it’s the keeper of two of my favorite holidays (looking at you Halloween and Thanksgiving), but as of late autumn has become a season that I covet year-round.
I grew up along the coast of Southern California and remained there until just a few months ago, hopping from San Diego to Los Angeles and then to Orange County. And as much as I loved it (and always will), it admittedly began to lose the allure that kept me there. Surprisingly, 300 days of sunshine a year can get old (don’t @ me).
I endured (yes, endured) 24 years of falls that still felt like summer. 24 years pretending that 80-degrees-and-sunny was temperate enough weather to break out the boots and flannels (it was, no surprise, not cool enough to do that). Two dozen falls witnessing green palms swaying in a warm breeze instead of maples transitioning into vibrant shades of orange and red.
Now that I live in a part of the country where the changing season is actually something I can see and feel rather than it simply being the period of time before Christmas, you can sure as heck bet I’m taking advantage of it.
Here I’ve rounded up a list of things I’m hoping to do before winter (my first real one, too!) inevitably makes its grand debut.
1. Visit a pumpkin patch and get crafty with it
I’m aware that this can be done anywhere in the country, but I’ve avoided doing this the last few years simply because October in Southern California is usually the hottest month of the year. There’s nothing charming about moseying around hundreds of gourds in 100+ degree temps.
I’m excited to drive out of the city, hit up the local town of Franklin, and find the perfect plump little pumpkin. And instead of carving (messy and smelly and attracts alllll the bugs), I’m thinking of breaking out the paint and getting my DIY on.
2. Go apple picking and make a tasty apple crumble
Another thing that can be done anywhere, but same goes as above: there’s just nothing cute about picking apples in your tank top and shorts and sweating your ass off.
I’m excited to finally break out my new Timberlands and my trusty flannel and take all the pics. And then I’ll bring home the apples I’ve picked (you know, in all those totally candid pictures) and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
3. Fall Potluck (perhaps Friendsgiving?!) + scary movie night
I feel like this is just something that needs to be done. Gather the gang, invite them over along with their favorite fall-inspired dishes, then gorge on said dishes while watching a scary movie (or just Hocus Pocus, that’s fine too) . . . what could be better?
4. Drive to the Smokey Mountains and take in the foliage
As simple as it may sound, this is something I’m genuinely excited to do. As mentioned above in the intro, I never experienced a changing season in its entirety. Sure, I’ve seen autumnal foliage — it was accessible if I ever left the comforts of my sleepy beach town in California. But I’ve never seen it regularly and on a larger scale.
Who knows? I might make a weekend out of it, post up in a cabin in the mountains, and really assume my role as Basic White Girl.
5. Go for a hike and (you guessed it) take in the foliage
Can’t get enough of that foliage. May as well get some exercise in while I’m at it!
6. Get coffee and walk around a local fall festival
Coffee or a PSL? Either way, this sounds like a dream.
7. Get more coffee and read . . . preferably something spooky
In a park, on my trusty balcony, in a coffee shop — any and all seem lovely to me and would make for a day well spent.
During the fall, I love reading something that aligns with the season (think witches, folklore, true crime). Last year, I read A Discovery of Witches. This year, I’m looking forward to diving into Practical Magic and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.
8. Visit a local brewery and taste their seasonal brews
I have a hunch there might be a pumpkin-flavored beer somewhere around here for me to get my hands on.
9. Get crafty with a DIY Halloween costume
I spent last Halloween in Boston and Salem (read about my trip here) and it was the first time I put in a decent amount of effort to my costume. I had been wanting to be Vivian Ward from Pretty Woman for years, so I made sure to do it right. And it made for such a memorable night and some great photo ops, too!
This Halloween, a group of my best girls is coming into town for a long weekend in Nashville. We have yet to think up what we are going to be (I think there might be eight of us?!), but I’m seeing a night of crafting in my future.
10. Take a tour of the Bell Witch Cave
Okay, this one might be a stretch. However, local folklore is something I simply can’t get enough of. I’m afraid of pretty much everything, but I’m also a twisted person who loves to fuel her fears. Anyone else? No? Just me. Okay!
A couple of my friends from college (the same I went to Salem with last Halloween) are the hosts of a wildly popular podcast called Two Girls One Ghost (read the interview I did with them last year). They covered the Bell Witch in Episode 7, and ever since I’ve been itching to risk it all by going for a visit! Who’s coming with?!