Fall is finally here!
If you've been reading for awhile, you already know that this time last year we were living in South Florida - which for this Midwestern girl felt a little bit like the Twilight Zone any time we tried to partake in "seasonal" festivities. There was something about drinking apple cider in 85 degree heat that just didn't seem to compute with me....
The year before that, Michael and I were brand-new to this marriage thing (our anniversary is less than a week away!), so I was eager to move to Michigan in early October to finally be with my love. Autumn in Michigan sounds like a Midwestern dream come true, right? Wrong. Maybe that year was a fluke, but as soon as I arrived it got C-O-L-D and suddenly a 6-month-long winter was upon us. I will never forget that time we visited an apple orchard in Ann Arbor; it was bitterly cold, windy, and practically no one was there. We were so frozen we grabbed some hot apple cider and high-tailed it out of there as fast as we could.
As you can probably tell, the last two autumns have been somewhat unusual and just a tad bit disappointing considering my FAVORITE season of them all is fall. Now that we're in Pennsylvania you had better believe I am going to be living it up this year...which finally brings me to what I really wanted to write about: this past weekend's adventures, which I like to refer to as "Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall."
The weather was gorgeous on Saturday and considering it was the final weekend of summer, we were dying to get outdoors and soak it in. We decided to check out a popular garden that everyone around here raves about. Honestly, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!
Michael and I have visited our fair share of arboretums, parks, and botanical gardens together so we thought we had an idea of what Longwood Gardens must be like. In some respects, we were right; however, we underestimated the sheer size of this 40+ acre place. We arrived thinking that we could see almost everything in the 3 remaining hours before it closed. Boy, were we wrong. At one point, Michael announced that it felt like we were at a "theme park for gardens." Later on, he proclaimed that it was just as big as the Toledo Zoo...and I must say that I felt both his theme park and zoo comparisons were on par.
|I adored this Italian Water Garden|
If you ever find yourselves in the western suburbs of Philadelphia with some free time, you should definitely check out Longwood Gardens. Unless you hate flowers, fountains, meadows, trees, tropical plants, greenhouses, tree houses (!), topiaries, and historic buildings - then you shouldn't waste your time. Because they have all of this and more.
|We also happened to visit when there was a flower show going on|
|Did you know there are actually a LOT of varieties of water lilies? I seriously had no idea.|
In three hours we managed to see many of the largest gardens and displays, but we didn't stay too long in any area. If you wanted to, you could spend all day exploring the gardens and enjoying nature without seeing everything this place had to offer. Now I can understand why people might consider becoming members there - because it wouldn't be that difficult to go 3 or 4 times a year. We've also been told that the Christmas lights in winter are breathtaking (but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves - let's get back to the final weekend of summer and the beginning of fall!).
Clearly we didn't do a lot of research before arriving at the gardens, but I think that created a wonderful atmosphere of surprise. For example, we had no idea that within the conservatory there is a Children's Garden! Everything about it was enchanting - from the child-size fountains to the several tunnels and small doors. It made me think of fairies, enchanted woods, and all kinds of fantastic things a child's imagination should be fed with. Gabriel was a bit young for most of it, but he definitely enjoyed all the little fountains.
|This boy LOVES water wherever he can find it. Future swimmer, perhaps?|
You'd think that sums up our weekend pretty well, but Sunday was an equally gorgeous day filled with the subtle chill and breath of autumn...which means we couldn't resist visiting a nearby apple orchard!
We got there a bit late in the day (this tends to be a common theme lately thanks to one very important little person's nap schedule), so the apple picking had already ended. However, we were still able to visit the goats, the playground, and the farm market and bakery.
|As soon as I saw this I thought to myself, "NOW fall has arrived!"|
We stocked up on what was probably way too many apple-themed sweets for our own good, but we had no idea when we would find ourselves at an orchard again and I think the disappointment of the last 2 autumns subconsciously caused us to want to devour ALL the fall things in sight while we could. Besides, we got to introduce Gabriel to some yummy apple cider donuts, which he loved:
In addition to our apple goods, we sprung for a tiny pumpkin. We intend to get larger pumpkins later in the month, but there's something about little, baby-sized pumpkins that never fails to tug at my heartstrings...so you can only imagine the ridiculous ways in which this mother's heart now MELTS at the sight of little pumpkins...because...babies...and baby-sized pumpkins...!!! SO MUCH BABY CUTENESS. See? I told you - ridiculous.
Only adding to my giddiness over our little pumpkin was what happened when we brought it home. Gabriel was holding onto it and I asked him if he could "show Mommy his pumpkin." In response, he proudly held the pumpkin out for me to see...which only caused my heart to melt in a million new ways as I swallowed the hard truth that perhaps my baby is better described as a toddler these days after all....
This weekend was definitely one for the memory bank with its gorgeous weather, breathtaking gardens, the sights and smells of a promising autumn, baby-sized pumpkins, my growing baby, and quality time with my little family. It doesn't get much better than this. After this weekend's adventures I am so ready to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall!
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”