• Kara Cushway

Enjoying Autumn... Even When It's HOT

Note: In this post I include links to other blogs and websites. Please be aware that this post is not sponsored or partnered in any way. These links are just there for ease of access in case you want to click through any of the delicious recipes I've featured!

The problem with living in the southwest during what should be autumn is that, compared to Michigan, where I grew up, there doesn’t seem to be an autumn in the southwest, at least not a real one. Here in Oklahoma, the leaves don’t turn colors in the traditional sense of the phrase; rather, they yellow on the branches and the edges turn brown and crispy thanks to the unrelenting sun and heat.

HOWEVER. Since I’m trying to maintain a positive outlook on things, I thought I’d make a list of all the ways you and I can still celebrate fall when living where the temperatures don’t drop till January, and stay cool while doing it.

Decorate. Start with the indoors, where you’re spending all your time anyway because it’s too dang hot to leave the house. Personally, I’m not a huge seasonal decorator, but I like the idea of using pumpkins, leaves, branches or twigs, and other natural elements to bring the feeling of autumn into the house. Break out your plaid throws or pillows, light some white candles or string a few strands of twinkle lights, and fill a vase or pitcher with branches from your yard; it’ll give your house the gentle facelift it needs to welcome the season.

Use scents. Cinnamon, clove, orange, vanilla, and various tree scents like pine and cedarwood would be excellent choices to suffuse your house with the scents of autumn. If you have a diffuser for essential oils, you’re all set; otherwise choose soy-based candles or melting wax (to avoid nasty chemicals in your home), or incense in fall scents to get you in the mood for autumn. Alternatively, try the tips for baking and cooking down below!

Get outside! It’s 103 degrees still, I know. But on those days when the temperature deigns to drop into the 70s or 80s, it’s the perfect time to take a bike ride, hike a nearby trail, or hunt for signs of the changing seasons. Recently I went on a bike ride (after not going on bike rides all summer because my skin would’ve melted off in the sun) and was surprised to find that in some spots, it actually felt like fall! There were a few yellowing leaves spiraling down off the trees, or whipped up by some capricious breeze with the barest undercurrent of coolness to it. Whereas during my time growing up in Michigan, fall always smelled of leaf litter and damp forest decay, here in Oklahoma, fall is on the drier side. Sure, there’s a lot more rain here in the fall than there is in the summer, but the sun is still hot, so the primary autumnal scent is of toasty leaves and maybe just a hint of the last few lawn-mowings of the season.

Wear the cardigan anyway. As we’ve already gone over, we’re still facing triple-digit temps. That does not mean you shouldn’t be breaking out the cardigans and ankle boots, IMO. I mean, yes, it’s hot. But every building still keeps its interior at a crisp 69-73 degrees, so you can definitely still pull off fall styles! And if you absolutely can’t bring yourself to wear a cardigan when it feels like summer will be here forever, hit up Pinterest for ideas for outfits to wear during a hot-weather fall. There’s a lot you can wear that will keep you cool, but feeling like you’re decked out for the season! (Thank you, light layers.)

Chill your drinks. Normally, the PSL we all know and love refers to the hot latte form, but as we all also know, these popular seasonal sips are also served iced or blended! Pick up a cooler version of your favorite fall beverage – I promise, they taste just as good, but you don’t have to break out in a sweat to enjoy them. (Pumpkin cream cold brew, anyone?) And don’t forget to bring your reusable mugs and cups!

If you’re more of a cocktail person than a coffee person (or if you’re both), use some seasonal flavors during cocktail hour! There are so many delicious drinks that place seasonal spices and fruits like cinnamon, vanilla, pear, apple, and pumpkin at center stage. Bourbon Apple Cider, Cider Sangria, the Spiced Vanilla Pear Cocktail pictured above, and this Pumpkin Smash all sound like they’d be refreshing drinks for these hot, technically-fall-but-feels-like-hell days.

Bake. Nothing can stop you from enjoying the flavors of the season, even if it’s ten thousand degrees outside. Whip out your mixer and dump cinnamon on everything.

Cook with fall produce. On a related note to baking: pumpkin, sweet potato, and winter squash should be in everything you make from now until Christmas. But if you’re still in the midst of what feels like summer when it’s actually almost October, try mixing up the traditional produce and flavors of the season by summer-izing them! Ever had a bacon-sweet potato kabob? How about a green salad (arugula/kale/shaved Brussels sprouts) topped with roasted winter squash, goat cheese, cranberries, and pecans? Maybe you could try a cold pasta salad, but with fall ingredients like Brussels sprouts, leeks, and mushrooms. Or grilled pork chops with apples, or grilled pumpkin quesadillas with chicken and gouda? The possibilities are delicious.

Cuddle up. I find that often, what we miss about “fall” the season is actually the hygge sorts of feelings we get when fall does roll around. Break out your favorite blanket and snuggle up with a bowl of popcorn for a movie night (check out my recent post with the recipe for my dad’s famous Cheesy Popcorn). Bonus points if you pick a fall- or Halloween-themed movie! Or, if you’re a sports person, make those football Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays) a big deal! Invite a few friends over, or make a trio of dips to enjoy with your chips, and make every game a celebration, no matter who wins. (I’m imagining people throwing soft fruits at me for that comment, but I’m not a big sports person, so it’s fine.)

Connect. I can pretty much guarantee that despite the heat, there are people just as crazy as you and me who actually wish it felt like fall right now. There’s sure to be a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, an apple orchard, or a farmers’ market near you where you can geek out on all things fall-related with the proprietors and other visitors to the attractions. And these are the perfect places to stock up on some all-natural décor elements like apples, gourds, haybales, pots of mums – the works!

If all else fails, you can shun fall for the next month or two until it actually does cool down, and spend the intervening time at the beach (try having a bonfire on the beach while you're there, to summon the season!). But hopefully, in spite of the heat, in spite of what I like to call Fake Fall, where the solar calendar claims that it’s autumn but it still feels like high summer, you can still start getting in the fall mood with a few ideas from this post. Happy autumn!

Do you live in a place where the heat gets in the way of enjoying this season? What are some things you do to combat Fake Fall?


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