Fall Bucket List
By: Jessica Louque
Maybe it’s just me but it seems like there’s not a break between holidays anymore. Halloween candy was up for sale before the “Back to School” signs were down in August. Christmas will be for sale as soon as Halloween is over (not really enough consumer merchandising for Thanksgiving, but some will be out), and Valentine’s Day cards and candy will be out by the second week of January. If we celebrate the holidays for two or three months each, what makes them special?
Don’t get me wrong; I love to celebrate holidays. It’s just irritating to me that everything has turned into a “you don’t have spirit if you don’t buy all this stuff” mentality floating around now. I love pumpkin flavors but I am not eating pumpkins in August! To make me feel a little better about celebrating not just a particular holiday, but the season in general, I am enacting seasonal bucket lists. This way, I can pinpoint the things I enjoy about a season without focusing on the retail aspect of a holiday.
Bucket lists are pretty popular now for all sorts of things. Originally, they were just meant to be for things you wanted to accomplish before you checked out, but now with the limited attention spans of everyone, combined with the limitless ideas of the internet, people make a short-term list that expires at a certain point. Altering this to a seasonal version just gives a list of accomplishments within a three-month time span. It’s also good for a goal-setting expedition, and helps remind you of the things you enjoy most.
As bee people, you should also try to incorporate some essential overwintering into your planning, whether it be bucket-listed or not. As an example, I move these items from my “to-do” list to my bucket list:
Winterizing all the colonies, including Varroa treatment, combining hives, a good pollen supplement, and some sucrose feeding
•Cleaning out the apiary for any dead hives, bad equipment, or trash
•Proper overwinter storage of drawn frames
•Organizing the honey house
•Planting a Fall-to-Spring flowering crop for your bees if you have space
All of these things are easier to do in the Fall because it’s usually a little cooler for the outside work (or in the honey house) and make the Spring so much easier to deal with. It’s hard to feel prepared for Winter when you have a messy apiary or unhappy bees waiting to be attended to. Organizing your honey house or storage area also gives you an idea of what you might need for the next year, or what could be repaired or repainted during the Winter months. You have to be realistic when you’re perusing the bee catalogs in preparation for Spring – you totally have enough space for that 18-frame extractor now that you have cleaned up, and since you cleaned, you deserve it!
While each season has fun things associated with it, there’s also work to be done in each season. Getting the work done makes the play part more fun. Besides the business of bees, here’s some other ideas for a fall bucket list:
• Visit a haunted house
º This may be something you want to do with a group of friends to make it more fun, but make sure you’re prepared for the fright level associated with your haunted house/trail choice.
• Eat something pumpkin
º Don’t make this just about the Starbucks pumpkin drinks (unless you want to), but use it as motivation to make your own pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin fritters – or talk a friend into making them for you. Have a competition!
• Winterize outdoor equipment
º If you use a lawnmower, weed whacker, chipper, tiller, or tractor, all of these things need to be properly stored for Winter. Gas goes bad when it sits, so adding something like Stabil to the gas and leaving as little as possible in the tank is best. You should also sharpen the blades, change the oil, check the pressure in the tires, check the belts, and unhook the battery. If you get a chance, it’s also good practice to crank them up for a few minutes at least once a month to keep them running well. We’re lucky to have a good mechanic and garage nearby that will do all of our maintenance work so we don’t have to think about it and he remembers to do everything.
• Roast something at a bonfire
º Preferably not yourself, but get a metal coat hanger and roast some marshmallows or some weenies and take the opportunity to eat a lot of s’mores!
• Appreciate the changing leaves
º Plants are fascinating with their reactions to external stimuli. In the future, I plan to have an article dedicated to the process of why leaves change colors. In the meantime, get outside and marvel at the beauty of the leaves. Try to find a good place that isn’t surrounded by other people, although the parkways are great at this time of year.
• Learn a Fall dish for Thanksgiving
º Maybe try some of that pumpkin food we were talking about earlier? Or, try to make something with Fall foods besides pumpkin. A house favorite in the Louque family is roasted Fall veggies. It’s just carrots, parsnips, beets, squash if there’s any around, brussels sprouts, and red potatoes mixed in salt, pepper, and olive oil. We bake until it’s glorious. Mushrooms can also be good in this if you happen to have any available.
• Have a picnic in the woods
º You could double this with the Fall leaves one. Take the opportunity to squeeze out that last bit of decent weather to stay outside. It’s supposed to be a rough Winter, and thinking about those Fall picnics might be what gets you through!
• Decorate your doorstop
º Not everybody has a lot of space, but you can always hang up a colorful fall wreath that you either bought or made (if you’re crafty). If you have a little more space, you could pile up enough pumpkins to cause a fire hazard, some dried corn stalks and indian corn for pizazz, and maybe a scarecrow to add some ambiance.
• Line your driveway with paper lanterns and electric candles
º We did this last year, and the effect is pretty cool. I am not a fan of flammable things (fire not in a fireplace or designated fire-ok area) so putting real candles in a paper bag doesn’t work for me. I bought a bag of tea candles from Amazon.com that have little plastic flames and little batteries. They flicker like a real candle and the battery life will last you at least a week, if not a whole season. The driveway here is about a quarter mile and was not motivating enough to light them frequently. It was really nice when they were lit because they had fall cut-outs with leaves of different trees, or an acorn cut-out, and I think a few might have been pumpkins.
• Scare somebody
º Preferably your children when they are misbehaving, but be prepared for retaliation if you choose to go this route.
• Go to a football game
º If you have a home team, grab a sweatshirt and head out to support your team! Tailgating might be your thing too, and you might be able to add wings with your own specialty sauce to your Thanksgiving repertoire after trying it out on your tailgating buddies.
• Watch a seasonal movie
º Lifetime network has a ton of “made for TV” movies that are seasonal, but there’s not a lot of guy movies for this time of year. Most Autumn movies are more sentimental, with something like a throwback to Stepmom, or something reminiscent of Summer with a Nicholas Sparks movie and a box of tissues.
• Clean out your Summer closet
º With six people in our house, space is at a premium so we do two clothing swaps a year with the upstairs closets. There’s a big gap in temperatures for Fall, so this is the cluster of clothes hoarding at its finest during this time. Summer clothes are still out, but Winter clothes have to come down to match the cooler days and cold nights. This is the best time to go through clothes from the Summer and decide to get rid of what you don’t want, don’t wear, or don’t need and donate it to your charity of choice. It’s an even better time to go through your Fall/Winter clothes to make more space to buy new ones.
• Bring out the flannel sheets
º Switch out your bedding to warm quilts and flannel sheets. Best. Thing. Ever. You can even sleep with the windows open.
• Go to a festival or a fair
º This is the season for festivals and fairs. It’s finally time that you can be outside and not sweat to death or have a heat stroke, so people come out of the woodwork like roaches to celebrate the non-sweltering outdoors. I know the unofficial start of fall here is the Labor Day weekend junk pile party in Hillsville, Virginia. It’s basically a mile square outdoor flea market/yard sale/confusion that everybody goes to. It’s something to see even if you don’t plan to buy anything (oh, but you will. You can’t NOT buy something. You NEED that metal rooster in your yard) and to get some steps on your FitBit.
• Go on a hayride
º Okay, so maybe your allergies don’t like hayrides, but it’s always fun if you can. You could always try to combine some of these into a “Bonfire of roasting new foods while looking at leaves followed by a hayride” and count it as double points… you know, if you give yourself a score.
• Celebrate the Longest Night (Winter solstice)
º Another excuse for a party, go old school and have a longest night party to celebrate the beginning of Winter, the nearness of Christmas, and a lot of holiday time with friends.
I hope these ideas have given you something to think about to have a great fall season. Use some of these and come up with your own to make a family tradition, or at least keep up with your Winter preparation!
Jessica Louque and her family are keeping bees, farming, gardening and living off the land in North Carolina.