OPOIEN: Campus perfect place to enjoy fall

Fall Scene on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 16, 2008. Photo: Shing Kai Chan/Iowa State Daily

Shing Kai Chan

Fall Scene on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 16, 2008. Photo: Shing Kai Chan/Iowa State Daily

Jessica Opoien

Are you tired of being inundated with election coverage every time you turn on the TV or open the newspaper? Do the voting registration people occupying the sidewalks make you want to fast forward three weeks into the future, to a time when this election hoopla will be over? Add the chaos of the political circus we call the election to the stress of midterms, classes, work, and every other way we try to get by, and life becomes incredibly exhausting.

This is not a call to action asking you to vote, do your homework, or contribute to society in any way — although I hope you all will. Public service, academic excellence, professional performance — all those things we’re supposed to do in order to advance on the path to success — just put them out of your mind for a few minutes.

Fall is here — or autumn, for those of you who call it that. For everyone else who wonders why this season has two names — “fall” is primarily a North American English term with Germanic roots, whereas “autumn” can be traced back to French and Latin. Both words are beautiful — autumn for its unique spelling and the way it rolls off the tongue, and fall for its symbolic representation of the time of year it describes.

This is a beautiful time of year, and you’ll miss it if you’re not careful. Many of us are still mourning the end of summer, which is made all too real by chilly, rainy walks to class and piles of homework waiting back in our rooms. But before long, winter’s snowy curtain will drape across the campus, and those rainy walks to class will be nothing compared to the snow, sleet, and ice to come.

What makes the fall such a special season? All you have to do to experience the magic is take a step outside. Just look around — the sky is a piercing shade of blue, sharp and comforting at the same time. The leaves have dipped into the warmest hues of nature’s palette, painting the tops of the trees in shades of orange, red, and gold. Leaves decorate the ground, slowly shifting from the rich, fiery colors of the ends of the branches to deep shades of brown as they return to the earth. Step on a brown one and you can hear it crackle beneath your feet. Jump into a colorful pile and recall the simplicity of childhood. Just admire the hues as you walk to class, or take a walk with the specific purpose of viewing the beauty of nature. The colors of the world are just a little richer in the fall.

Not the outdoorsy type? As the temperature drops, the thought of staying inside is consoling. There are plenty of ways to enjoy fall from the comfort of your own room. Why not buy some apple cider from a local orchard? You can drink it cold, but there is nothing quite like a mug of hot apple cider on a brisk fall afternoon. It’s not quite the same as the mulled cider you’d get at an orchard or a Halloween party, but microwaving a mug of store-bought cider is a surprisingly effective dorm room version of this delicious fall treat. Apple cider is the perfect combination of tart and sweet — a flavor that is rich and unique but never overwhelming.

Apple cider isn’t the only thing fall has to offer to tantalize your taste buds. This is the season of squash, the most popular of which is probably the pumpkin. I would argue that it’s too early for pumpkin pie — really, it’s a Thanksgiving dessert — but pumpkins are versatile. Try to get your hands on some pumpkin bread or maybe a pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting. Don’t stress about the calories — treating yourself in moderation is perfectly fine, and we’ve all been neglecting ourselves while studying for midterms.

Not a fan of the pumpkin taste? You don’t have to eat them to enjoy this fall commodity. Jack-o-lanterns date back hundreds of years to an old Irish legend — in fact, the original jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips. When large amounts of Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800s, they began using pumpkins because they were larger and easier to carve. Pumpkin carving is a great activity for a group of friends, and when you’re done you have a fun decoration!

These are just a smattering of examples of ways to take advantage of the fall. It matters not so much how you do it, just that you take some time from the hectic college lifestyle to enjoy the beauty that nature has set right in front of you. There’s a reason all those college promotional brochures feature pictures taken of the campus in the fall. Fall is arguably the most beautiful time of the year, and a college campus is the perfect place to take it in.

— Jessica Opoien is a freshman in English and pre-journalism and mass communication from Marinette, Wis.