October is easily one of my favorite months of the year. After the scorching heat of the summer, my body always craves the cooler temperatures of fall and the crisp air that envelopes me as soon as I leave the house. Nothing tugs on my heartstring in quite the same way as seeing the trees become a little bit more colorful each day does and seeing the fog cling to the hills every morning gives me the kind of satisfaction that only fellow fall lovers will understand. I love walking through the Old Town these days, the ground wet from the rain that has fallen in the night, I love seeing large displays of pumpkins taking up space in the grocery stores and I love seeing my Instagram feed blow up with pictures of all the usual fall clichés, but the one thing I love the most is how invigorated this time of the year always makes me feel.
For me, October is a time for new beginnings and new opportunities and I never find myself quite as motivated and energized to tackle new tasks and challenges during other times of the year. There is something about these October days that makes me walk with a pep in my step and a big smile on my face and when I wander through the city streets I often can’t help, but think how lucky I am to be alive right now and how I thankful I feel to be able to experience this time right here, right now. And I think that’s exactly why I love this month so much.
I had planned to start this post by saying that fall has gotten off to a slow start in Heidelberg this year because almoevery day in the past few weeks seems to have been blessed with a few hours of glorious, glorious sunshine. But it’s been raining pretty much non-stop for the last few days and so that statement doesn’t seem all that accurate anymore, even if the leaves still seem somewhat reluctant to change their color.
But all rainfalls aside, fall really has been extraordinarily beautiful this year and I have felt even more inclined than usual to spend time outdoors. Since I often find myself rushing from place to place so quickly that I rarely have the time to appreciate the beauty in the places I pass by every single day, I have tried to put a conscious effort into being more in the present lately and I have already noticed how this attitude has started to pay off.
When you remember to marvel at the little things in life – be it a perfectly flaky croissant, that cute new concept store around the corner or the three leaves that have just fallen off the tree outside of your window – you always have something to feel excited about. And since the first heralders of winter will surely knock on our doors sooner rather than later, there’s no time like right now to get into a mindset that will help you enjoy the colder months of the year, rather than dread it.
I know, I know! A picture of me for once! And, yes, I am definitely wearing a Slytherin scarf - I'm actually a proud Gryffindor, but I think Slytherin's colors suit me better! ;)
As part of the digital generation, my expectations of what a proper fall should look like are obviously very much based on the internet. Years of seeing Barbour-wearing girls going apple picking and families visiting pumpkin patches have subconsciously given me the impression that there are some things that are so quintessential for this season that fall just isn’t quite right without them. And while Germany is definitely one of those countries where the weather and the foliage seem to be taken straight out of a fall storybook, there are also some things that appear to very common overseas that don’t exist in Germany in quite the same way.
When I shared my fall bucket list on the blog a few weeks ago, I said that I really wanted 2016 to be the year where I finally got around to making a pumpkin pie. Depending on where you are from, this sounds like an easy enough task – make pie crust, prepare filling, bake in the oven – but in Germany this endeavour is complicated by the mere fact that there is no such thing as canned pumpkin puree in this country – at least, I have never seen it sold anywhere.
Using pumpkin in dishes that aren’t savory isn’t a very common practice where I live and while the Pumpkin Spice Latte has finally made it to Starbucks in recent years, I have yet to come across pumpkin-flavored pastries in bakeries or anywhere that isn’t a specific pumpkin-themed event. I still remember not believing that pumpkin pie contained actual pumpkin while celebrating Thanksgiving with my host family when I lived in Canada many years ago, simply because it sounded so downright outlandish to me, but thankfully I have learned much since then, including that pumpkins shouldn’t just be limited to soups.
Not having access to canned pumpkin puree is obviously a luxury problem that could easily enough be solved if I finally got around to making my own, but luckily some of the things that the internet has taught me are absolute American fall essentials have started to make an appearance in my home waters as well and that’s how I found myself traipsing through a corn maze a few weeks ago.
A few kilometers north of Heidelberg, close to a little town called Ladenburg, there is a large farm called Hegehof that not only supplies many regional vegetables to the grocery stores in the city, but also turns one of their cornfields into a maze open to visitors in the summer and fall. Visiting a corn maze is one of those things I have always wanted to do, but it’s also always been one of those things that I didn’t know you could actually make happen in Germany until recently. And so when I learned that there was one very close to where I live, I quickly convinced my boyfriend to go on a little fall bike ride over the fields when a sunny weekend popped up.
We had a lot of fun unleashing our inner five-year-olds and while I obviously have no idea how German corn mazes compare to American ones (I imagine the ones in the US are larger), I was very pleasantly surprised by just how big the maze was. Across the maze, there were a few hidden signs with little riddles for you to find and solve and while the latter wasn't particularly difficult, the former was unexpectedly hard to achieve and thus made sure that even adults had a blast in the maze.
On our ride back to Heidelberg, we spontaneously decided to stop by an outdoor garden center that we had noticed on our way to the corn maze. If you’re following my Instagram account, you have probably already noticed that I have a bit of a thing for beautiful gardens. I’m not into gardening myself (though I do aspire to grow my own vegetables and fruit if I ever have a garden of my own!), but there are not a lot of things that I love photographing quite as much as beautiful plants and since I have often looked wistfully at pictures from charming nurseries on British blogs, I couldn’t pass up the chance to finally take some myself.
To be perfectly honest, I haven’t felt the most inspired when it comes to photography in the past few weeks. I think I took so many pictures during my travels in September (that I still have to go through and sort!), that I have reached a point where I kind of just don’t want to think about aperture, focus, composition and all the other things that go into taking a picture anymore, not to mention the hours it takes to edit my pictures. Flowers (& pumpkins) are a notable exception to this rule, however, and so our impromptu garden center visit was a complete delight.
This past Sunday, my boyfriend and me went to the Frankfurt Book Fair and I found myself reminiscing about the past five years. We had one of our first dates at the Book Fair, all these years ago, and to return now was a stark reminder of just how much life can change in a short period of time. October may be the time where we say goodbye to the spoils of summer, but with apples, pears, pumpkins, beets and many other goodies aplenty it is also a month of abundance and fruitfulness. And since I have always considered the end of something good to be the potential beginning of something even better, I cannot help but think of these October days and smile because life really is so good and precious.
(P.S. A few other travel bloggers and me have shared a few of our favorite places in Germany on the GoEuro Blog recently - make sure to check it out here if you're in need of some Germany travel inspiration!)