This is a tough question: is Fall in Wisconsin better than Summer in So Cal? No, it is not. Because summer means the beach (or the lake) so Summer automatically wins. But hey, my first Fall in Wisconsin (arguably my first “real fall” ever) has been absolutely delightful!
That Time We Got Boo’d
I learned recently that some neighborhoods in Wisconsin have this tradition, if that’s the right word, where neighbors leave a bag of Halloween treats on each other’s doorsteps, and the recipient has to continue the chain a la Pay It Forward to two other neighbors. It reminds me of the time I was part of a sock exchange in middle school. Someone on my gymnastics team got me a pair of socks and the poem that came with it had the sock style preference and size of the person I was supposed to buy socks for. It was like Secret Santa meets a chain letter… This is obviously WAY better because I get to meet/surprise people I don’t know yet and there’s no threat of bad things happening for non-compliance.
I have no idea if this is a Halloween tradition or one for major holidays. When I saw my neighbor coming to my door to leave the “Boo Bag”, I went out to greet her — which I guess you’re not supposed to do because it ruins the surprise, but she had her golden retriever puppy with her so neither Gjalla nor I could resist saying hello. After she explained to me how the “You Got Boo’d” chain works, I was smiling and geeking out for almost an hour. I felt like I’d been formally accepted into the neighborhood. It’s such a great feeling, a sense of belonging and friendship and gratitude and generosity all combined.
In all the neighborhoods and apartment complexes I’ve lived in, I’ve never been “Boo’d”. Is this a Wisconsin thing or do other neighborhoods in other states do community-building chains like this too?
That Time We Decided to Buy a Pumpkin Light Cover to Fit In
On a walk around the neighborhood, I noticed one of the houses had a pumpkin cover over the top of their little lamppost in their yard. I thought it was a clever idea because I had never seen lamp covers like that. Over the next week, those pumpkin light covers showed up all over the whole neighborhood. It was as if they were multiplying like bacteria overnight, and every morning another light post would have one.
When I saw my next door neighbor putting his pumpkin cover on, I seized the golden opportunity. It was an opportunity to get to know my neighbor better, to help out (because applying those covers is definitely a two-person job), and to ask where the covers came from. Apparently, these covers are sold at Ace, and with that news, I had my mission. I was on a mission to find and buy a cover because it was starting to feel like having a light cover symbolized that you’re part of the club…part of the neighborhood.
When my mom came to visit Wisconsin, we went to three different stores in search of the perfect Halloween decor. I felt excited to have a big front yard to decorate was exciting, and triumphant for owning a pumpkin light cover.
That moment when you want to fit in and stand out at the same time…
The deal with the pumpkin lantern covers is they give you the eyes, eyebrows, nose, and smile, and there are indentations (or outdents?) where the face is supposed to go. But my mom raised me to color outside the lines…
I decided I would follow the guidelines for most of the face, but I would do the eyebrows my own way. My pumpkin looks a little less surprised and enthusiastic than the other pumpkins, but it is my own. I am fitting in…and also being myself.
That Time We Walked Around to Look At Trees
As I mentioned in my last post, finding a tree with color-changing leaves in So Cal feels like finding a rainbow: they’re out there, but you have to be in the right place at the right time. In Wisconsin, trees with color-changing leaves are everywhere. Everywhere I drive or walk, I get distracted by beautiful trees with leaves in vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red, and green. It’s astonishing.
If I remember correctly, the color change has to do with the degradation of chlorophyll. As a biochemist, that part makes sense, but then why does the same tree have some branches that cling to green while its other branches have moved on to yellow or orange? How can the breakdown of a plant compound be so … random? If the breakdown of chlorophyll is triggered by the change in temperature or the fading sunlight, how can two adjacent trees be such different colors? If the trees are right next to each other, wouldn’t they have gotten the same sunlight, the same temperature change, the same soil nutrients?
In conclusion, Fall in Wisconsin is pretty great…
I love having a whole yard to decorate for Halloween. I love having a big backyard for Gjalla and I to run around. I love living in a neighborhood where the people are so friendly and welcoming. I love seeing the leaves change colors everywhere I go.
What are YOUR favorite parts of fall?