Autumn in Northeast Ohio: Pandemic-Safe Adventures in CLE & Beyond

Monday, November 16, 2020

We're fortunate to be able to experience all four seasons here in Northeast Ohio, but the one I consider to be the best of them – autumn – is also the most fleeting.

This year, it seems 2020 has thrown us a bit of a bone (finally), giving us what feels like slightly more autumn than usual, & I, for one, have been trying to make the most of it before cold(er) weather sets in for good. 

Here's what I've been up to as the air gets crisper & the leaves start change color (OK, fine, most of them have fallen by now...) How about you?

Eating on patios

We haven't been going out to eat much, still preferring the safety of eating carryout in our own home, but on the occasions that we have ventured out onto safe, open-air patios, I've just been so freaking glad for it. I miss refills & appetizers & people-watching & chatting with servers... just the entire experience. And while the weather's still decent, we've been eating carryout on our own front porch for that restaurant patio vibe.

Dressing up for a homebound Halloween

In years past, Mike & I have always dressed up together, usually as Harry Potter characters (save for a break for a Hamilton year). This year, with no place to go to celebrate, he wasn't in the mood for costumes, so I went it alone. I didn't actually go anywhere, mind you, & in fact, I fell asleep for, like, half the day, but it still made me happy to get spooky & do something. Say hello to your friend local Death Eater (& yes, that's a bathrobe).

Exploring the great outdoors

No one is more surprised than I am by my newfound love of hiking, although "walking around outside" may be better terminology. I'm not, like... doing anything difficult or particularly strenuous. My mom & I visited the beautiful waterfall at Brandywine Falls, & I am especially enamored of the Richfield Heritage Preserve, a former Girl Scout camp whose gorgeous grounds have been preserved & immaculately maintained. I even bought hiking boots! I'm legit now! 

Beach-combing, still

When summer drew to a close, my favorite beach-combing spot became significantly less crowded, often with nary a single other human to be found on the beach on the days I stop by. That makes it easier to find perfect, lake-tumbled gems & other weird shit, like the partial Frozen Charlotte doll you see above & a porcelain die I uncovered in a pile of pebbles. When there's nobody to compete with for treasures, there are so many more to be found! 

Visiting a pumpkin patch

My friend Brittany came into town at the start of fall, & together we hit up Szalay's Farm & Market, my favorite seasonal spot in Northeast Ohio. I brought along some knishes from Larder, so after we chose our pumpkins & picked up some other goodies (apple cider!), we sat on old-timey front porch chairs chowing on autumnal treats & posing with tractors. In other words, my perfect fall day.

Making the coziest foods

Pasta is a year-round food, but it feels especially apt for autumn, when I crave creamy sauces & things made with bacon. Just me? We've been making some of our favorite comfort foods, like poor-(wo)man's carbonara (fancied-up Pasta Roni), Banza noodles with sundried tomatoes & pesto, & "After-Hours Tortellini," a recipe I found years ago that now doesn't seem to exist anywhere online. We're also doing a lot of ooey-gooey grilled cheese experiments. 

Looking for beavers

Sure, this technically falls under the category of "exploring the great outdoors," but this is a better headline, isn't it? After seeing a gorgeous photo on my friend Kristen's IG, I knew I needed to get to Beaver Marsh, part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, before the end of autumn. Unfortunately, a lot of the trees had lost their leaves by the time I got there, but it was still amazingly serene, gorgeous, & secluded... though I did not see any of its namesake critters, to my dismay. 

That's kiiiind of it for me, though I'm also finally reading more, & I've been doing a ton of freelancing lately for Cleveland Magazine. Do you have autumn where you live? What have you been up to? 

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