Fall is my favorite season. In Rhode Island, we had our seasonal traditions down pat: a trip to Barden Family Orchard to pick apples and treat ourselves to a cider doughnut (and later, again, to choose a pumpkin), an annual camping trip to the White Mountains, fall leaf-collecting walks down Blackstone Boulevard near our home in Providence, and of course, loading up on fresh-pressed cider and harvest season produce at the Hope Street Farmer’s Market.
Now that we are back in California, it seems an age has passed. In the San Francisco Bay Area, where I grew up and am now living again, the seasonal changes are more subtle, to say the least. And yet, with my social media feeds filling with photos of friends enjoying those orchard, farm, and camping trips we so loved at this time of year, I find myself craving ways to honor the seasons here, as well. So it was over the weekend that (even with what I thought was a cold, and may have actually been the flu, ugh…) I packed up the family and headed a wee bit north to Petaluma, in search of some of my favorite autumnal pleasures.
We ended up at the Spring Hill Dairy Farm, home of Petaluma Creamery in Petaluma, a lovely farm that keeps dairy cows and makes butter, cheese, and ice cream. We tramped through acres of pick-your-own pumpkins (and a dizzying variety of other squash) to find just the right gourds, listened to live bluegrass music, waded in a corn pit (imagine a kids’ ball pit, but replace the balls with dried corn…oh yes), climbed a tower of hay bales, sampled homemade ice cream, pet adorable little dairy calves, and generally had a grand time. I’ve found a source at my local farmer’s market for real-deal fresh pressed cider, and we replaced our annual White Mountains camping trip with one to Big Sur.
California will never match New England in the fall, but with a bit of effort, it will certainly do.