“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” I was reminded of this quote recently when I watched my daughter burst through the front gate in her summer uniform, drenched to the bone having copped an autumn shower whilst walking home from school. Why is it all Tween girls seem to hate jumpers, eschew umbrellas and refuse pointblank to wear raincoats? I showed little sympathy.
During autumn (March, April, May) in the southern hemisphere, Mother Nature puts on a spectacular outdoor display. With crisp, clear days, the sky can appear impossibly blue. Occasional downpours can be theatrical to say the least. Deciduous plants prepare for their winter rest, their leaves change colour and then fall from the tree completely. The result? A dazzling display of colour and movement throughout your suburb and nearby botanic gardens and parks. It’s time to find the right clothing and head outdoors!
Here’s our go-to list of things you and your children can do during the cooler months:
- Children enjoy collecting leaves at this time of year. With every colour from grubby browns, light and vibrant yellows, dusky purples through to eye-popping scarlets and reds, now is the time to do some colouring in! Your kids can collect leaves of as many shapes and colours as they can and then, at home, try and recreate the colours they’ve found in nature.
- They can also do leaf stencilling, paint the leaves themselves or stick them to a piece of paper to make leaf people or animals.
- Find a deciduous tree that is just starting to turn and that is easy to visit each day. Encourage your child to take a photo of the tree from the same position over a period of about a fortnight or more. At the end of the process, combine all the photos and you’ll have a lovely visual representation of the process of autumn. Pick the top six photos and pop them in a frame.
- Easter is almost upon us. If you celebrate it, egg blowing and decoration is an almost obligatory activity for kids aged from 6-12.
- Encourage your kids to go on a spider hunting adventure and photograph what they find. The beautiful Leaf Curling, Golden Orb, Garden Weavers and St Andrew’s Cross spiders are all active in the garden at present. When I was little, I used to play chicken with my friends and we’d pluck the curled leaves from webs then uncurl them until the spider launched out of the end. Always made us jump ~ poor spiders.
- Don’t forget puddle jumping! It’s a joyous activity for kids and parents alike. Try it barefoot, there’s nothing like it. Or simply stand barefoot in the gutter after a downpour and watch the cold water run over your feet.
- Autumn offers the opportunity to create a beautiful found collection. Lichen-covered twigs, spent seed cases and funky nuts, fallen bird’s eggs and discarded nests are all on offer.
- Many plants will also have a good display of berries, which can look beautiful indoors in a vase. Rosehips are particularly pretty. Remember to watch for berries inadvertently being popped into the mouth by a little one. All can be potentially toxic or pose a choking risk.
- Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs for a spring display. Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Jonquils, Bluebells, and Snowdrops can all be planted depending on where in Australia you live. If space in the garden is at a premium, they’ll happily do in a pot on your balcony or verandah.
- Get down and dirty in the patch: It’s time to pop in seedlings of beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, cabbages, peas, lettuce (best time), parsnip, radish, silverbeet, snow peas and sugar snaps. Potatoes can also be planted, as can the funky and delicious celeriac root. It’s a busy time in the patch and even if you plant only a few of these, you’ll have a garden fit to bursting with beautiful produce come summer.
- Stuff some pumpkins, make a mushroom risotto or soup, pickle some cabbage, stew some plums, poach some pears or make some blackberry jam. There’s some sensational produce in season now and there are a million recipes out there on the Internet. Just remember to involve your children in the kitchen. In doing so, you are teaching them about seasons, food sources and potentially broadening their palates.
- Go star watching at night. Autumn night skies can be truly spectacular at this time of year.
- Go mushroom hunting if you have access to a rural area. Pine mushrooms are in season right now and to my mind are amongst the prettiest and most delicious mushrooms on the planet. Just make sure you are certain that what you pick is edible.
- Fly a kite. Autumn comes with wind…
- If it’s a truly miserable day, curl up by the window with a book and watch the rain patterns as they splash upon your window.
What are your favourite activities during autumn?
Until next time…