Sunday, September 9, 2012

More Ways to Celebrate Autumn

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

Every year as Joann and I turn our calendars to September, our thoughts turn to fall color and the many scenes awaiting us on the backroads. We can’t wait to hit the backroads to see what kind of show the trees will display each year.

Several years ago we gave you Five Ways to Celebrate Autumn, and this year we’d like to share a few more.

September is a good month to visit a winery especially if you would like to participate in a grape stomp. Some wineries even have Lucille Ball look-alike contests in honor of the famous “I Love Lucy” episode where she stomped grapes.

I typed “grape stomp Wisconsin” into Google search and found a website listing all of the grape stomps in the Midwest states. Try it for your location and see what comes up for your area or an area you want to visit.

Look up the Wisconsin Rustic Roads map for your area and find the locations of some roads to explore. Each road has a description of what you can expect to find along the route.

If you’re not lucky enough to live in Wisconsin, find a good backroads map and pick some rural roads of your own to drive. Often the thrill of finding something unexpected on a backroad is more fun than knowing what to look for. (But keep your eyes open since not knowing what you’re looking for makes it that much easier to drive past it without realizing it!)

Find a cranberry festival in your area, or make plans to visit Warrens, Wisconsin for their annual Cranberry Festival. The festival is always held the last full weekend of September.

If you can’t make it to the festival, take a drive in a cranberry area near you to see the fields flooded for harvest, or plan a visit to the Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens, Wisconsin. There you can take a tour of the cranberry museum and buy cranberry-flavored and scented items, as well as everything else cranberry.

Find a farm market or watch along your route for small vegetable stands. Fall is a wonderful time to find the bounty of home gardens for sale along the roads. Many are self-service stands, so make sure you have small bills and change.

Find a stand of hickory nut trees along the backroads and pick up some hickory nuts. The taste is wonderful, but it takes some practice to crack them with success.

Or, if you’re lucky, you might find an older friend or relative who knows the secret and will crack some for you for a share of the nutmeats.

We always have big plans of getting some cracked over the winter, and have yet to actually make that a reality.

Lastly, even though we included this on our prior list, we can’t help but suggest a visit to an apple orchard. This year the apples are ready early, and the supply in many areas of Wisconsin will be limited, so plan your trip early.

Don’t forget to take home some apple goodies. Buy yourself some caramel apples, cider doughnuts, or an apple pie.

Have fun however you celebrate autumn this year.

Happy Shunpiking!

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