Often the simpler things in life are the most fun and enjoyable. Late summer and early fall can bring lots of opportunities to experience some of those simple and enjoyable pleasures.
For example, fresh local fruit and vegetables out of our own gardens or from local farmers' markets or orchards provide us with great-tasting foods of many kinds. Take fresh sweet corn on the cob with butter and a little salt, a treat that only comes in August and early September. Or local tree-ripened peaches with a flavor that cannot be matched by imported fruit. Take a dish of ice cream with fresh peaches on top and you have a delicious and healthful treat that comes with this time of the year.
Local apples of several varieties are now available. Once again, they have a taste that cannot be equaled by western fruit. And you can find varieties of apples just for cooking, both cooking and eating varieties or those best for picking up and eating fresh. It's a great time for apple pie made from local apples, topped off with some ice cream, and you can enjoy another simple pleasure.
Since I have to eat low-sugar foods, Betty makes our apple pies or crisps with sugar substitutes, and they are very good. Those with little or no crust are best for us.
Simple experiences such as watching the trees turn colors can be fun. We have fall scenery as beautiful as any part of the country right in our own backyard. We just need to get out and look around and really observe what is happening in the countryside.
Several local fall festivals and open houses will be held that are always enjoyable. Again, enjoy the sights and scenery, the people, the smell of open cooked foods and the smiles on people's faces as they take in the various festivities.
Every morning when the weather is reasonably good, I walk a mile or more. We live in a good neighborhood for walking. When I meet cars on the street as I walk, we all wave and smile to each other, a simple gesture of friendliness. It says "I'm glad to see you, and enjoy your day."
When the weather turns cold and snowy, and I have to walk the treadmill or ride the stationary bike inside, I miss that exchange with friendly neighbors. On the other hand, I'm thankful to be able to exercise, even if it is inside, because I know the importance of keeping active. For nearly two years, I went to cardiac rehabilitation and enjoyed the friendships I made doing those supervised exercises with others. Friendly people are all around us if we look for them. Walking outside in good weather was more enjoyable to me than the inside exercises. While I appreciated the progress, I made in cardiac rehab, I liked walking the neighborhood.
OK, you are going to tell me that fall is followed by winter. Sometimes winter can be very long, and we're not looking forward to being indoors and the cold and snow. As we get older, the cold seems to get colder and the snow deeper.
True, but there are simple things you can do that make the winter months good times. It might be joining a church study group, reading a good book, going to the library, visiting with friends and relatives over coffee or, if you can find one, watching a TV program you like.
One thing we can do is think about others that we might be able to help and doing those things we can do to help them. It might be a phone call to someone who is lonely, writing a letter to a friend far away or baking some fresh rolls and taking them to a friend who can no longer cook or bake.
Simple, enjoyable opportunities are all around us. Let's look for them and have some fun!
Parker grew up in Trumbull County, is retired from The Ohio State University and is an independent writer for the Tribune.