On a crisp October day on the Forest Grove campus, you may be bundled up while walking to class, or you may be like me, and the possibility of seeing the outside of your dorm is slim. With COVID-19 traipsing around the globe, we may find ourselves wallowing in the depressive gloom that this season has to offer, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Autumn is the best season to get out and explore, whether or not you’re basking in the beauty of Oregon, or relaxing in the comfort of your locality.
The best dates are always the ones where you can have the most fun without worrying about the diminishing size of your wallet. On days where the leaves are crunchy beneath your feet and the sun shines through the widening holes in the canopies above, walking around town is a great way to get moving and connect with yourself. If that seems too lonely, take this time to link arms with a friend or a loved one and admire the scenery, start a deep conversation, or make a game out of your stroll. Being able to make a date out of physical activity will release endorphins that will flow through your body, making you feel warm and closer to the people you are sharing the experience with. An increase in exercise can also increase your oxytocin levels, or in other words, your body will up your love hormones, making you and your companion have a deeper connection with one another, romantic relationship or not. If you’re living around Forest Grove, the farmers market is a great place to traipse, whether you’re in need of an outing or just a bushel of carrots. The farmers market is open every Wednesday from May through the end of October on Main Street between 21st Avenue and Pacific Avenue from 4 pm to 7 pm.
Or, if taking a constitutional isn’t your thing, try going to a restaurant or eatery that you’ve never been to before. Although small, this outing can leave you with a sense of adventure, and in the company of someone you love, it might be a wonderful place to make a new memory. Autumn is the best time to find the best patisserie around and enjoy the tasty creations of your local baker. Laughing over a cup of warm cider and a fresh bear claw is always a cozy way to spend an hour or two, and it’s a great way to increase your dopamine levels, especially as the sun fades away faster and faster and your vitamin D levels plummet. Seasonal depression is no joke, so try and practice self-care at least once a week! This works even better when you employ someone else who cares about you to help you manage symptoms such as losing interest in activities you enjoy and changes in sleep, appetite, weight, and mood.
It is the final week of October, so why not visit the spookiest pumpkin patch in town? Trudging through a corn maze at dusk and hauling a pumpkin off to its disembowelment is just the thing to get me in the spirit of the season. If you don’t have access to a pumpkin patch or cornfield, supermarkets all over the country are stocked to the teeth with gourds, squash, and pumpkins. Carving pumpkins is an artistic way to release some of that pent-up midterm rage, and the seeds and insides are the perfect ingredients for all of Autumn’s most iconic dishes: roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, hearty soups, pumpkin butter, and even pumpkin body scrubs. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Fall’s never-ending harvests.
Autumn is a time when people can come together over the harvest, the crisp air, the crunchy and vibrant leaves that float down from the treetops, and the scariest holiday of all. Even though the pandemic may have sullied some of these things for the majority of us, small outings with close friends and loved ones, or even by yourself can benefit you in ways you couldn’t dream of and can make memories that will last a lifetime. So the next time you go to turn on Netflix, try going out on the town to connect with yourself, a friend, a partner, a family member, or even a stranger. Autumn is the most beautiful time of the year, so don’t waste a second of it. — Haley Berger