This list reads like it came straight out of an all-American Midwestern suburban wonderland of epic proportions. (Go on a hayride? Here? Really?) I live in New York City -- in Harlem, to be exact. In spite of rampant gentrification and much ballyhooed "progress", this neighborhood is still a ghetto. And since I don't have gobs of money or a driver's license, I tend to have my fun whereever the subway can take me.
It's especially nice when fun can be had within walking (or biking) distance. Although I do love the idea of putting a wreath on the door for every season, I don't have a porch to decorate. And my alma mater doesn't have a football team -- or a sports team of any kind, for that matter. So, alas -- no tailgating.
Don't get me wrong. I'm from the South. If I were home, the game would be on, delicious things would be roasting (or popping!) in the fireplace, there'd be a pie or two in the oven, and raking leaves into a massive pile over and over and over for all of us to dive onto them and roll around, screaming and laughing and freaking out would be the most fun thing to do in the history of ever.
But I'm not at home.
All of this begs the question: if I had a Harlem bucket list for fall, what would be on it? Well. Here it is, folks.
- There aren't any pumpkin patches to visit in the ghetto, unfortunately -- but Harlem Meer does have a Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Sail. That's right. At dusk, they create the biggest pumpkin flotilla in the city on the meer. (To see how beautiful it is, click here.)
- Enjoy cider? No, thank you -- I'll be making my delicious, irresistable Mexican hot chocolate at the first sign of a serious cold snap.
- I can't make a bonfire in the living room of my apartment and have s'mores -- but I can go to Cosi and make s'mores at my table, with my own little blue flames and all the fixin's. Or if I'm feeling especially saucy, I'll order a set and have s'mores at home. Too perfect.
- Caramel apples? Not with this dental work. Next!
- I don't do chili. I've certainly eaten my fair share of it in my lifetime and I make better chili than anyone I know but it's not my thing. I'm from the Lowcountry. I'd prefer to roast oysters. If I can't find a friend with a fireplace, I think I can roast a few with a hibachi in the park. (Mental note: the home I purchase will definitely have a fireplace or an "outdoor kitchen" -- or both!)
- I bake pie all the time, anyhow. (I've got to stay in good form for my next pie contest.) Next!
- I give thanks to God, absolutely every single day of my life. I can't wait until Thanksgiving. There's too much to be grateful for, right now. Next!
- There's way too many beer gardens in Harlem -- with excellent food! -- to not enjoy Oktoberfest. Harlem Public has a fireplace, so I can check that off the bucket list in short order, too.
- Why carve a pumpkin when I can make something with it instead? (See #6.)
- I don't know how to drive, so going on a fall color drive isn't really an option. Instead, I'll ride my bike through Riverbank State Park, past the little red lighthouse and all the way to Fort Tryon Park -- 67 acres of lush, green wonder, filled with all kinds of flora and fauna and wildlife. I can't go all the way up there without wandering through The Cloisters. I can take in some breathtaking scenery and medieval art and architecture, lose myself in their gardens, play in the leaves (with a camera!) and perhaps collect a few. Check, check and check.