Lately, I have been having a bit of a difficult time coming up with appropriate-for-the-week topics. Many of the ideas I have written down in my handy-dandy notebook (shout out to "Blue's Clues," you've stuck with me for 20+ years) are better suited for chillier weather or just later in this year. If you have any ideas, do not hesitate to send them my way. I will do my darndest to turn it into something worthy of a column. Because August is just an odd month. It's not quite fall yet, but you can definitely tell summer's end is near. And that's all I have to say about that.

This week, however, seemed like the perfect time to whip out a topic I have been itching to share with all of you lovely folks. (Also, Mamma V gave me the idea because, like I said, sometimes it is difficult to come up with topics.)

Although we are only in the "False Fall" stage of the 13 seasons of the Midwest and we will soon enter the Second Summer, this wonderfully cool weather gives us a taste of the gloriousness that is soon(ish) to come.

Fall. It is a glorious time of year filled with beautiful colors, crisp air and everything that is good about living in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Mother Nature seems to want to tease us a bit this week, so here are the five best things about fall.


For many folks in the upper Midwest, fall is the time of year when farm families eat in the field, haulers are busy until all hours of the night and gardens and orchards are picked clean of delicious produce for families around the area.

Not only does the wonderful food like squash and corn become readily available this time of year, the colors burst onto the scene in a way that can only be described as perfect. Golden corn and wheat fields give way to the electric yellow of canola and sunshine of sunflowers, while the greenery of grass and trees brings out a wonderful contrast that reminds you why you choose to live in the Midwest.

Farmers markets flourish and folks all around the country get to take part in what the Earth provides us. And boy, is it sweet.


Living in Minnesota and the Dakota, it seems everyone knows the great Midwest autumn pastime and gets excited when the last weekend in August rolls around. The Vikings and college football is something to get excited about.

But it's not just football that gets people in the mood for crisp air. Fall sports — like tennis, cross country, swimming and volleyball (to name a few) – signal the start to a new season for high schools and colleges around the country. Personally, there was nothing better than watching my high school sweetheart having to run sprints during football while us tennis players got to practice our serving and only ran to hit a ball back. There's something so satisfying about others having to do physical activity while you don't, isn't there?

However, when Friday night rolled around, the lights came up and the football players donned their varsity jerseys for the school day, the town came out to watch in true small-town Minnesota fashion — bundled up in blankets and coats, no matter the weather, and cheering for the boys.


Along with crisp fall evenings comes the quintessential fall evening activity: bonfires.

Each year, the pile of wood that had been stacked all summer slowly dwindles down to nothingness, while friends and family gather around to enjoy company, conversation and cold beer around the white-hot flames.

You can't have a fire without having a s'more (or six), either. Diets definitely go out the window when there's s'mores involved.


After months of struggling to locate that outfit that will keep you cool while still covering all the important bits when you're at work, it's finally time to bust out the chunky cable knits, denim jeans and (perhaps most importantly) the flannels. (insert heart-eye emoji here).

Thick materials in beautiful mustards, burnt oranges and olives make even the most mundane of days special. For the changing weather, bundling up under layers of cute patterns and cozy fabrics helps make the chill in the air OK.

As a bonus, with all the layers piled on, you don't have to worry about those extra few pounds on your waistline — nobody can see them.


Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumpkin Spice (is) Life, Pumpkin Smells (are what I) Love. No matter how you spin those three little letters, one thing remains: pumpkin.

The cinnamony-sweet smell of the beautiful fall squash as it is mixed with spices creates an aroma that is instantly recognizable as fall. Not only is pumpkin smell extremely fall-like, the taste can really only be described as fall in a cup. Thanks, Starbucks.

But pumpkin isn't the only fall flavor that makes its annual comeback in the fall. Candy corn, Mamma V's homemade Chex Mix and oodles of hotdishes along with apple-cinnamon desserts and hot cider also come to mind.

Emma Vatnsdal writes a regular column for Forum News Service featuring quick tips, tricks, ideas and more — all in bunches of five. Readers can reach her at