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Finding Fall 

click to enlarge Alison's family celebrating at the Rotary of Charlotte-Shelburne-Hinesburg Halloween Parade in 2018 - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • Alison's family celebrating at the Rotary of Charlotte-Shelburne-Hinesburg Halloween Parade in 2018

On the last Sunday of September, I found myself stuffing a 7-foot-tall bunch of dried corn stalks into the trunk of my car — an "impulse" buy that my 10-year-old son Theo had convinced me to make at Whitcombs' Land of Pumpkins and Corn Maze in Williston. We also packed in an assortment of squash in all shapes, sizes and colors, each with its own unique bumps, lumps and imperfections.

When we arrived home, we scurried around like woodland animals, organizing the pumpkins and gourds in neat groupings in our front yard and securing the corn stalks to the beams of our porch. We dug out a bin of Halloween decorations from the basement and scattered them tastefully about. Then, we took a few steps back and marveled at the autumnal tableau. Not quite Martha Stewart worthy, but almost.

We've always done a little bit of seasonal sprucing up, but this year I felt compelled to go the extra mile. Why? As Halloween draws nearer, I've been thinking about all the ways the kid-centric holiday is going to look different this year because of COVID-19 precautions. More than six months into the pandemic, it's hard not to think about what our kids are missing out on — from "normal" school to carefree social interactions to holiday celebrations. Maybe I'm overcompensating, but making things look festive is one way to make this time of year feel a little more special.

In this issue, you'll find lots of ideas for how to make the best of things this October. In "Growing Up Green," Meredith Bay-Tyack shares a host of tips for creating a special Halloween that is both fun and eco-friendly. Heather Fitzgerald shares tips for observing migrating hawks and snow geese in the fall months in "Good Nature." In "Art Lessons," Emily Jacobs shares how to add a little magical realism to your photos with an easy-to-use, free app. Benjamin Roesch explains what makes music sound scary and suggests songs for a spooky playlist in "Music Notes."

In the midst of trying to make things feel festive and special, I'm also trying to remember that it's OK not to be a super parent right now. In "Use Your Words," Vermont Works for Women board chair Monica Chapman effectively conveys that message in her essay about embracing her self-given title of "hybrid mom" during this time. We're all doing the best we can right now. Remember to treat yourself this month.

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