Just because summer is over doesn’t mean outdoor life has to end. Crisp, clear autumn nights are some of the most beautiful you will ever experience. There’ll be time enough to hunker down and hibernate; for now you just need some hot apple cider or a thick mug of hot chocolate. A warm drink and a few other essentials will have you enjoying this season that William Cullen Bryant called “the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
Besides a warm drink (or a drink that warms) the second most important thing you will need to add to your space is someone to snuggle. If you have one of the trendy outdoor sectionals that are everywhere, then you know what to do. If not, just gather round the patio chairs, a sofa or loveseat, maybe a “pouf” or even a tree stump or two. Make sure everyone is wearing their favorite fuzzy hoody, and add some washable throws and cushy pillows to your space. Keep a nice outdoor storage unit on hand to store them away over night when it gets frosty.
You got your drink, you got your honey; now you need some fire. You can go with a traditional built-in wood or gas burning firepit or fireplace. Firepits can be rustic, whimsical, elegant, arty; just go for what your taste and budget allows; the effects are the same. Besides the warmth they provide, they create a cozy, happy, crackly atmosphere and give you a convenient place to toast marshmallows. But there are also other ways to bring in this element of light and warmth. There are a wide variety of portable firepits available, both in wood-burning or gas forms. If you aren’t ready to go all in, think about getting one of the ever popular chimineas, which add a nice south of the border flair to a patio. In addition, there are table top “firepits” that burn flammable gel; these are small and easy to manage. They might not emit as much heat but they will certainly add to the atmostphere. Besides your firepit, add some nice lanterns or candles to the area; anything that will create that warm, romantic glow that permeates the bracing fall air.
Grilling and cooking outdoors in the fall has its own special charm; for one thing, standing in front of grill in the cool air will be a pleasure. Has anyone every really thought about how crazy it is to say “It’s 95 degrees in the shade, I think I will go out and stand over white hot charcoal.” The smell of smoke takes on a new beauty, mingling with the dry leaves and loamy earth. And since autumn is, after all, the harvest season, you have a new variety of fresh food with which to experiment. Butternut squash, poached pears, just-picked apples, sweet potatoes, and cabbage can all be grilled to amazing results. Pork roast, smoked turkey, apple wood ribs, spicy chorizo.
Fall isn’t just about sitting around a fire, eating and drinking. It’s a great time to have fun with your family outdoors. Piles of leaves never grow old. This is the season for touch football, for taking a hike, going for a hayride, collecting beautiful fall leaves and preserving them in glycerin, for making a bird-feeder. Roast pumpkin seeds, read ghost stories, build a scarecrow, make caramel apples or just slow down and savor each beautiful moment of this beautiful season.