Unfortunately, I was not able to see any of the unusual aurora borealis displays in the night sky Friday or Saturday night, clouds and trees were in the way. Did anyone in the Twin Cities area get a good look at them? Standing outside, late at night, in the unseasonably chilly temps, with the scent of leaves heavy in the breeze off of the lake, reminded me why autumn is my favorite season in Minnesota. Yes, it may be brief but, to me, it highlights many of the best aspects of Minnesota life- since it is such a fleeting, short period between the oppressive humidity and the flying snow, it is nice to take the most advantage of these weeks as is possible.
Jay Gabler, at the Tangential, shares a list that resonates with me as well, the 20 Best Things About September. I definitely appreciate most of the things listed, and it inspired me to set down a few of my own favorite things to look forward to over the next few autumn months; expect reports to come.
- Minnesota Renaissance Festival– always like going later in the season, only a couple of weekends left to go and hopefully less hot and dusty than late August. I find damp, cool conditions a little more reminiscent of the 16th century English countryside. This weekend is Octoberfest, while the next weekend’s theme is Irish.
- Speaking of Octoberfest, drinking some well crafted local beers is always a good sign of the season and with Minnesota’s prominent German background, there are many local celebrations of German beer to choose from; a few ideas can be found here. I definitely recall some good times with Das Boot and hammershclagen
- The Autumn Harvest- A great time of year for local farmers markets, many of my favorite ingredients are coming into season- notably, apples and pumpkins. Nothing better than a scratch made pumpkin pie and I think this year I’m going to try my hand at home brewing some hard cider. We’ll see how that works out by the holidays, perhaps!
- Book Sales- Aside from food, another of my major interests is books and, like spring, the Hennepin County Library puts on many fall book sales, where books, CDs, and other materials can be bought for a major bargain. Can’t wait to see what discoveries and deals await in these treasure troves of stuff.
- Literary Events- speaking of books, with the coming of the cold, the local Twin Cities literary scene offers a lot of opportunities to get some literature to curl up with when the temperatures begin their inexorable fall. The Twin Cities Book Festival will be held on October 11 and novelist Cory Doctorow will be making an appearance at the St. Paul Public Library Rondo Branch Both are sponsored by the free local literary journal Rain Taxi.
- A Ghost Tour- As Halloween approaches, the Twin Cities offer a good amount of opportunities to be creeped out. Several local organizations and groups offer tours into the mysterious and spooky backgrounds of our metro, both historical and supernatural. While I’m not a believer in ghosts, I love a good ghost story, especially one with a local twist. Even if I don’t believe, I can still cop to being creeped out late at night, when, alone in my apartment, something creaks. A few years ago I went on the ghost bus tour hosted by the gangster tours at the Wabasha Street Caves. Pretty fun, though I think this walking tour of the St. Anthony area looks interesting too.
- Victorian Ghost Stories, James J. Hill House- Minnesota’s largest and most imposing Victorian mansion, built by the railroad magnate who linked Chicago to Seattle, east and west, the James J. Hill House is always an atmospheric and great place to listen to vintage Victorian ghost literature read by local thespians dressed in period clothes. I’ve attended the ghost story event several times, and it always makes a cool spectacle, particularly for children, in particular with the complimentary hot cider.
- Soap Factory Haunted Basement- Over the last few years, I’ve watched this event increase in the attention and accolades from local media. Bringing “art” to the idea of the haunted house event, the Haunted Basement is, by all accounts, absolutely terrifying. Like, vomit inducing terrifying. In spite of being, in general, a wimp when it comes to this sort of thing, I’ve had an unaccountable desire to check it out for myself. Like, you know, it’d be an adventure, right? Just sign your waiver and take on the most disturbing spectacle ever divised in Minneapolis. Will this year be the year?