Autumn activities abound in Northfield

A refreshing breeze drifts through campus, stirring red and gold leaves across the Hill and signaling autumn’s arrival. With the change in season comes an inevitable change in fashion, food and, best of all, festivities. Hooray, fall is finally here!

But as classes become more routine and schedules fall into place, it can be easy to get caught up in mundane day-to-day happenings and forget all about the blessings this season has to offer. So cut yourself some slack, take a study break and try out a few of these fall fundamentals in Northfield:

Fireside Orchard and Gardens

Head due west on Highway 19, and within ten minutes, through your left window, you will spy a rustic red barn. Though it is easy to miss the entrance, Fireside Orchard and Gardens is worth making a U-turn. Right beyond the parking lot sits a charming shop brimming with homemade goodies including apple spice cake donuts and an assortment of fudge and caramel apples. Outside, lines of apple trees extend as far as the eye can see. The ripe fruit beckons you to come pluck it off a branch and munch on it as you tour the orchard. Once you have filled a bag with fresh fruit or purchased a pastry from the store, you can plant yourself on a bench amidst the whimsical rose garden and picturesque pond placed right beside the orchard. And if you’re on a tight college budget, don’t worry, there are guaranteed free smells.

Take a Stroll

As cliché as it may sound, the best way to welcome in the new season is to take a nice, long walk. Northfield is home to the Carleton Arboretum and the St. Olaf Natural Lands, and the Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is a mere 20 minutes away. Wake up early one morning, put on some walking shoes, sip coffee as needed and take a stroll. Breathe in the fresh, crisp air as you meander across campus or through the arboretum. Appreciate the way the sunbeams twirl and waltz across the vibrant leaves. This dancing display of light and color comes but once a year, and it is best seen in the early morning. And, of course, pay attention to the quintessential sound of fall: that of fallen leaves crunching under your toes. Ah, the joys of autumn.

Show Some School Spirit

Throw on a St. Olaf sweatshirt and attend a sporting event. Go to a football game and stay through the end. Sing the school fight song when our team scores. If football is not your thing, go to a cross country meet, a soccer game or a volleyball match. The point is to show that you are proud to be an Ole. Finals are but a distant threat, and the weather won’t get any better than this, so you have no excuse not to show up and cheer on your athletic classmates. Who knows, maybe that guy or gal you’ve been secretly crushing on will take note of your impressive fan support. It’s truly a win-win.

Picnic Outside

Things you’ll need: a blanket, some finger food to munch on, a friend or a good book and a themed dessert perhaps a caramel apple from Fireside. Choose a nice, shady tree, preferably one that has already shed its green leaves and replaced them with a brilliant array of warm colors. Spread out your blanket and enjoy this outdoor oasis. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, activities like hammocking or flying a kite are must-haves in any successful picnic. You could even invite some extra friends, throw some tennis rackets and apples into your picnic basket and play a game of Apple Shmear. And once again, for anyone hoping to impress that certain someone, let me remind you that nothing says “pick me” like a romantic picnic amidst a field of flowers.

Organize a Rake N’ Run

For those who have never heard of this fun fall activity, you literally do just what the name suggests: rake someone’s yard for them and then run away and move on to the next house. All right, so I’ll admit that at first this may sound a smidge lame or too tiring an activity for a Sunday afternoon. But what’s not to like about spending time outdoors with friends and all the while helping someone in need? Plus, if you’re of the “but what’s in it for me” sect of the population, this would count for community service hours. And in case you’re still not convinced, remember that this gives you a perfect excuse to do the one thing without which no fall is truly complete. At some point during the rake n’ run adventure you can take a break, channel your inner seven-year-old and catapult yourself into a cushy pile of leaves. Hooray for fall!

Yoga in the Park

Every Saturday at 10 a.m., free outdoor yoga classes led by Melissa Sharpe are offered at Way Park, just off St. Olaf Avenue. People of all ages and flexibility are invited to join for a relaxing hour of yoga. What a perfect way to start your Saturday of studying, especially before – dare I say the dreaded “m” word – midterms strike. Participants are encouraged to bring their own yoga mat if possible.

Photo by Abbey Thomsen