It’s the beginning of December, Thanksgiving is behind us and so is Fall, a season I never thought I would love so much as this year. If you are new around here you can catch up on our American Tale here. Since our last post, a lot has happened among which we moved into our new apartment, I got into photography and took a course. So this post is going to be long and filled with images. I hope you enjoy this small throwback to our Autumn in Ann Arbor.
Fall food: apples, pumpkins and donuts
One of my favorite discoveries is the tradition of picking apples and pumpkins in Fall. We visited the Wasem Fruit Farm in Milan with our friend Courtney and has the most fun time picking apples from trees (yes for apple pie) and choosing a pumpkin to bring home and carve for Halloween. With the leftover apples they produce Apple Cider, a sweet beverage that you can consume cold or warm and is typical of the fall season. I fell in love with it: even though I hate apple juice, this tastes just like the apples my mom used to grate for me when I was very little and couldn’t bite things. It really sparked some strong memories. My favorite way to have Apple Cider is warm, with some Pumpkin Spices and a freshly baked Pumpkin Donut, also made on the spot at the Wasem Fruit Farm. If you want to read more of my new favorite fall foods and recipes, I wrote all about it here.
Fall colors, parks and walks
Life started out quite intensely for Koen as soon as we got here with his new job and lots to learn, meaning long hours at University with very little social life. So we decided that one day a week we’d have “us” time and take a walk or visit the surroundings. Thankfully Autumn has been merciful with a lot of beautiful sunny days and lovely temperatures.
Pickney Recreation Area and Silver Lake
Michigan is full of gorgeous parks and there is probably no better season to visit them than Fall, with all the leaves turning colors, away from the burning heat of the summer. It is bliss, I tell you. The first real big park we visited is the Pickney Recreation Area, a huge forest area full of tiny lakes, camping spots, hiking and mountain bike trails. In the middle of October the temperatures at night were still too warm but we could see the leaves beginning to turn.
Bird Hills Nature Area
When they say that in the US you need a car, you REALLY need a car. Since we don’t have one, we put an effort into visiting every patch of green on the map close to Ann Arbor that we could reach by foot or bus. Just north of Ann Arbor city centre is Bird Hills Nature Area, reachable in 10 minutes by bus from the centre. This park is really stunning with beautiful forest areas as well as a dam on the Huron River and the annexed Pond.
Argo Nature Area
Still along the Huron River and even close to Ann Arbor’s city centre is the Argo Nature Area, a narrow strip of forest along the river that includes a kayak rental service and some artificial rapids. It was unfortunately too late in the year but we want to come back in summer to rent Kayaks and paddle down the Huron River.
Ann Arbor Arboretum
A beauty close to home is the Ann Arbor Arboretum, a park close to the University of Michigan that stretches along the Huron River and up the hill to the city. It is a lovely place for an afternoon stride, where you can find students throwing footballs, studying for their exams and running.
Pumpkins and Halloween
After choosing and bringing home our pumpkin from the fruit farm, Courtney taught us how to carve it and we went for a Cheshire Cat (like my tattoo). Carving the pumpkin was a lot of fun and took about one and a half hours with Koen and I alternating to both have the chance to contribute. The final result was incredible and super effective. Unfortunately the moment you carve your pumpkin, it immediately starts to rot, so two weeks later it was put outside and became food for our resident squirrel (photo here).
We didn’t really do much else for Halloween, wanting to avoid drunk undressed college kids and us being grandma and grandpa. We had our wine and beer at home, a nice dinner and watches Hocus Pocus.
Fall was a very mild season this year and it ended on November 18th with a gorgeous day of 22 degrees Celsius, followed by a drop to freezing temperatures the same night and the first snow. Brrr..
Thanksgiving, the turkey and our first visitor
And finally it was time for our first much awaited Thanksgiving celebration! By coincidence Koen’s brother Rob came to visit from Texas that weekend so we really had a family feeling during this holiday. We went for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner at Courtney’s house where 12 hungry scientists ate to exhaustion a variety of amazing home cooked dishes including The turkey (I am kicking myself for being too late to take a picture), stuffing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, onion fritters, cranberry sauce, green beans and bacon, pumpkin cheese cake, apple pie and brownies. Yes we had it all, with lots of laughter, wine and Cards Against Humanity to go with it. A wonderful, happy and hilarious evening. I see why Americans love Thanksgiving!
So this was out Autumn in Ann Arbor. We closed it with a visit to the Great Lake Huron (which is REALLY big) and the National Forest behind it, where I could really imagine the native tribes live of venison and fishing.
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you! I hope you enjoyed our small diary of these past few months that are also our first in this new country. We are now waiting for the real snow to lock us in the house and the temperatures to drop to -20 for the infamous Michigan winter!
PS. since the last post I have received my work permit and am now waiting on more admin stuff, but it’s a step forward!! 😀