Why Fall isn’t Basic- An opinionated essay

Why is there a new trend of people that ‘Just can’t” with the fall season? A few years ago, right when I was starting to think about liking coffee, someone introduced me to the joys that Dunkin Donuts had to offer in the late months of the year: pumpkin!

I'm maybe a little too invested in my relationship with Dunkin. Donuts, that is.
I’m maybe a little too invested in my relationship with Dunkin. Donuts, that is.

I was in love. I couldn’t get enough pumpkin flavored coffee. I would cherish my iced drink with a cozy mitten wrapped around it as I crunched around campus with my sneakers and my favorite maroon sweatshirt with Springfield emblazoned across the chest, in case anyone forgot for a second where we were. I’ll be the first to admit it- Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Admittedly, there are only four, and each has its perks, but after hot sticky summers, the chilly air of October is always refreshing.

But my real question here is when did that become taboo? Suddenly I’m a ‘Basic White Girl” If I like autumn and wearing scarves and drinking Starbucks, or vodka, or Starbucks mixed with vodka, and whatever other obscure qualifications that someone in a meaningless pit of hatred and Mountain Dew came up with. (And yes, Vodka and flavored iced coffee is a thing. Even if it’s only My thing.) This whole stereotype is bullshit. Arguably, Pumpkin Spice has fallen victim the most to the skepticism and contempt from those who are no longer interested in something that is so mainstream. Here is my problem with and solution for these people. Problem: Why do you harbor such disgust towards something that is so scrumptious? Solution: More for me!

Shipyard Pumpkinhead is a seasonal Fall staple! It's brewed in Maine, but I did happen to find some in Bozeman! And yes, that's a cinnamon sugar rim.
Shipyard Pumpkinhead is a seasonal Fall staple! It’s brewed in Maine, but I did happen to find some in Bozeman! And yes, that’s a cinnamon sugar rim.

And I feel obligated at this point to mention the concept of a basic white girl as a ‘thing’ is so foolish. If you like something that many other people like, and you are willing to pay for it (in the case of a latte or apparel) you might be a bit consumerist, but not basic. And the vendors selling to you are good at marketing and promotions, so Kudos to them. Why not capitalize on Fall? The same is done with Christmas, 4th of July, the list goes on. I hope I don’t even have to go into why tacking on ‘white girl’ at the end of basic is wrong. It’s wrong.

Not Basic. Thats Maple Liquer, folks. And i' was delicious.
Not Basic. That’s me and my Maple Liqueur, folks. And it was delicious.

All I’m trying to say here is that people are turning into slightly less bundled up scrooges, and for what? Celebrating the change in season is fundamentally right, and anyone may choose to do so however they please. Me? I’m enjoying curling up next to my wood stove on chilly nights with a good book, a slice of pumpkin bread, and my favorite crocheted blanket made for me by my talented, and certainly not basic, little sister. When I was younger I liked jumping in the leaves, carving pumpkins, and helping my dad with yardwork (Ok, maybe helping isn’t the right word. I think I mean sitting on the swings while my dad raked) . My point is, Fall is always a joyful time of year. Everyone has the right to revel in it, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

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Eastern Foliage Vs Western Sunshine

New England, my home turf and stomping grounds for the first 24 years of my life, is famous for a good number of people, places, inventions and what have you. The land is rich with historical events and homesteads, from the old lighthouses you can spot all along coastal Maine to the Mark Twain house in Hartford, Connecticut, and all of the gorgeous old buildings and winding streets that make up the beloved city of Boston, Massachusetts. Each of the six states that makes up New England has its own claims to fame that draw tourists from around the globe (I’m looking at you, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, Waterbury, VT) But they also all share one universal draw that is especially unique- Fall Foliage.

Ask any native New Englander where the best fall foliage is, and I guarantee they will swear by a specific hike, time of day, weather condition, that will produce the absolute best swatch of golds, reds, ambers, and burnt oranges swirling in the breeze, clinging to their respective branches, and catching the sunlight just right. It is quite a spectacle, standing with the crisp autumn air teasing the red out of your cheeks, the strong October sunshine toasting your back, and the crunch of fresh fallen oak, maple, and birch leaves beneath your boots. And the truth is, it doesn’t really matter where you go in the Northeast- the foliage is beautiful pretty much everywhere. I lived in Springfield, MA, a notoriously urban, poor city, and the trees still managed to wave their bright, cheery fall glow effortlessly above the rooftops and cracked, broken sidewalks of the derelict city, giving a cheery feel if only for a few weeks. I have heard Route 100 in Vermont is especially lovely, although I can’t speak from experience.

Taken in Treetop Park, Springfield MA. Insert an Iced Pumpkin Latte from Dunkin, a good book, and a blanket, and you'll have set the scene.
Taken in Treetop Park, Springfield MA. Insert an Iced Pumpkin Latte from Dunkin, a good book, and a blanket, and you’ll have set the scene.

Here is the problem I have with all the glory given to my home grounds. I have been spoiled. My entire life, I have looked forward to gusty Septembers, vibrant Octobers, and Chilly Novembers. I have even embraced the fact that once it’s fall, you will need a jacket, hat and gloves in the morning, a tee shirt, shorts and flip flops in the early afternoon, and 6 blankets to sleep with at night. And now, here I am, in the middle of the North Western States, and I am sorely missing my fall weather. People who are Natives to south western Montana assure me that the ‘ber’ months are lovely out here, and they aren’t wrong, per say, they just aren’t as justified as I am when I say I know what autumn should look like. The trees here do turn, but the deciduous foliage is primarily made up of Aspen and Chokeberry, which fade into a bright yellow, then swirl in the streets. The evergreen population overpowers the landscape though, and the resulting effect is spots of yellow in a sea of green.

Taken in Downtown Bozeman early October
Taken in Downtown Bozeman early October

Already some of the trees are bare, and the streets are lined with the resulting leaves, but the crunch is somehow less satisfying. Hikes are beautiful, but the view is still obstructed by tall, spindly Lodgepole pines, dense spruces, and firs. I will say this- Montana deserves credit for its seemingly endless sunshine and warmth that has continued through September and well into October. More often than not, fall days in New england were windy, rainy and cold. Here, that doesn’t seem to be the case. That could be due to El Niño but don’t quote me on it! Either way, I am experiencing a new set of seasons, so be on the look out for potential winter laments! (I’m staying positive though, I’m confident in my abilities to navigate the Montana winters. I’m a stalwart New Englander!) If anything, the change in location has taught me to appreciate my home, and I’ve realized now more than ever how lucky I have been to grow up in such a unique place.

Do you have any thoughts on foliage, fall, or comments on different regions in the States or world? Share below!

Surviving as a Female Football Fan

Its week 5 in the NFL, and any good fan knows it. We are far beyond that initial excitement of preseason, and into the heart of the season, where rosters are getting closer to complete, and hopefully key players are still healthy! (Sorry, Dallas. I know that was a tough one.) New stars are emerging, and older ones are proving themselves again and again. As a young football fan, I am developing a deep appreciation for the sport as well as most of its followers. However, I have a few things to say about being a lady who loves to watch the All American Game.

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  1. There is no shame in learning.
    If you want to get into football, or any sport for that matter, do it! Play, or watch, or obsessively google ESPN stats and videos until you know every play, player, and team history. I don’t care what you do, but if you want to learn, by all means, learn! If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone who is willing to answer your questions and help you. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks you need, learn to the level that you will enjoy. My interest in Football has grown significantly over the last 4 years or so, and I’m soaking in new information every time I watch!
  2. Ignore that guy/gal who knows it all
    I hate this. As a fairly new dedicated fan myself, people will try and deny you entry into the Fandom, regardless of which team you root for. You will locate these people by listening for these calls in the wild:
    “Oh, you like the Packers? Name every player on the roster, the coaches, their wives, and their 3rd born sons.”
    or
    “I’m a true fan because my team always loses. You’re a bandwagon fan because your team always wins.”

    Does knowing that information make you a better fan? Maybe, if that’s what you’re into, but mostly it makes you an insufferable know it all who doesn’t want to have friends. Anyone who bases fan qualification off of stat knowledge or the tougher all time record to cope with is not a person you want to be around. For some reason, some men think we ladies do not have the capacity to figure this stuff out. Silly men. Maybe spend more time on reading up on current events and equality and less on reading stats.

  3. Feel free to watch a game on your own.
    But be ready for the creepy/sexist/idiotic comments to start pouring in. Since I’ve moved to Bozeman, MT alone, I’ve had to venture out to watch my beloved Patriots play, and this is not exactly New England Territory. Most people aren’t that hostile if I can find a bar that will play their game, but some people feel the need to share their thoughts nonetheless. Some typical comments:
    “You must be lonely over there” – No, I’ve got Tom, Gronk and Julian to keep me company thanks.
    “What man is forcing you to watch this?” – Um… you mean WOman, and that woman is me. Myself. I am making me watch this.
    “Do you want me to explain the rules to you?” – Yes please, what are we watching? This is cribbage, right?
    “Wow, you actually know the rules? Good for you!” -Yeah, it is good. Stop talking, I’m trying to watch.
    and my all time favorite:
    “You’re brave, coming out alone like this”- this one I have heard more than once, and to me, it is by far the most insulting. What, pray tell, is brave about me doing the exact thing you’re doing, sir? You’re here, having a beer and watching football. I am doing the exact same thing, except I’m a lady. There is not one thing that is ‘Brave’ about drinking beer, or going to a bar, or watching football. But thank you for being thoughtful of the weaker sex- we do scare easily, only travel in packs, and like to talk about doilies and teapots and shit.
  4. Be the Fan you want to see in the world
    Wear your jersey proudly, or don’t. Wear ridiculously garish team themed eye makeup! Or don’t. Drink only Jack and Lemonades because they are notorious for helping the Steelers win, because, you know, Yellow. Or Don’t! Whatever makes you happy on game day, do it. Football Ladies are lucky- we can wear jerseys, or cute makeup, or theme our outfits,  or make delicious football snacks, or stand up and scream at the TV with the best of them in tube socks and sweat pants that are questionably stank. There is no stereotype for how we should act in my book- Game day is my time to revel in my teams success and weep with their failures (HA we never lose #GOPATS) and not give a damn what anyone else is thinking.
  5. Lets talk about Lingerie League
    These women are stronger and scarier than I will ever be, but until they wear full jerseys, I won’t be watching. We can hang with the boys, so why do we have to dress to impress them? Please, make it stop.

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At the end of the day, Football is something that, if you choose to be a fan, you should be able to do so without worrying about being a lady. This little rant was brought on by an occurance yesterday which ended in a young man sitting next to me at the bar lamenting about how he couldn’t compliment women to get a date, and how they are all the same. I had been ignoring him at this point, but that comment caught my attention. I looked him in the eye, challenging his stream of logorrhea. He continued
Him:   “You know, they all have that ‘e-drug'”
Me:   “You mean estrogen? thats a hormone, not a drug. and people don’t want to date you because you’re an asshole. Excuse me, I’m trying to watch my football”

Ladies –  enjoy your Sunday ticket, MNF and TNF. Not one person can stop you, even if they try really hard. And Gents, Don’t be annoying. We are just as entitled to be fans as you. Plus, football pants.