By Shirley M.

I think fall is my favorite season here in Michigan. The light is not so intense anymore, as it was in the summer, nor the heat is as intense either. As a matter of fact, the weather is about as perfect as you can get: not too hot, but not too cold either. Sunny but breezy. I think it is the ideal time to enjoy the outdoors. Walks in the park, bike rides or canoe and kayak rides down the river are all activities much better enjoyed during the fall. It is really up to you, which activity you choose to best enjoy the change of colors. The expected peak fall color for our region (Southeast Michigan) is between October 17th and 24thand I have already started seeing some of the treetops changing to yellow and orange in our neighborhood.

Why not go visit one of the several parks in Washtenaw County to absorb all that the season has to offer? If you haven’t been to it yet, I highly recommend Hudson Mills Park, in Dexter. It is a beautiful park with a path that goes all around it, going through a wooded area, at times following the river, to more open grassy areas. There is also another path that connects Hudson Mills Park to downtown Dexter. It is a relatively new (maybe 6 or 7 years old?) boardwalk and paved path/trail, just under 5 miles long, where in late afternoons you might see deer, pheasants and rabbits. If you don’t want to walk all the way, you can rent a bike at Hudson Mills Park ($10 first hour and $5 any additional hour) and bike towards Dexter, have some ice cream downtown, and then ride back.

Of course, if you go to Dexter in October, you should also stop at the Dexter Cider Mill and have some freshly squeezed apple cider and donuts (no fancy donuts here, just plain sugar or cinnamon sugar sprinkled donuts).

The major theme for October, though, is Halloween. If you have a child you better get ready for it. If you haven’t started working on your child’s costume yet, you better start pronto, because the festivities will be happening during the whole month. “Monster Mash” will be on Saturday, October 12, from 12:30 to 3:00 pm at Rolling Hills Park. It is a free event that promises: costume contest, candy hunt, face painting, scavenger hunt, hay rides, cider and donuts, carnival games, pumpkin patch and more. You can register online (search under events) at: http://Washtenaw.org/288/Parks

In the same website, you can also check the other events they offer: “Halloween Fam Bash” (Fam as in family) on Saturday, October 26; and “Pumpkin Smash”, on November 2nd.

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens is offering “Pumpkins, Lanterns and Leaves – Fall Family Event” on October 18th and 19th, from 6pm to 8pm. In this event, you and your children will learn how to carve a pumpkin and then there will be a parade with the lighted pumpkin lanterns. The ticket is $14.50 per person and you can find more information at: http://mbgna.umich.edu

October 26th will be a long day for those of us who have children. Give them some breakfast, help them into their costumes and head to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Ann Arbor for “Halloween at the Market” (315 Detroit St., from 10am to 3pm). While you shop for the best vegetables, honey, or bread, your children can enjoy face painting, pumpkin decorating and other activities.

After lunch, head to the Veterans Park Ice Arena for “Halloween Skate” (2150 Jackson Road, from 1pm to 2:30pm. $5 adult and $4 youth). According to their site: “There will be spooky sounds playing. Come in costume for a chance to win the best prize award.” More information at: http://calendar,a2gov.org

If you still have any energy left, you can take the little ones to “Boo Bash” at Briarwood Mall, still on October 26, from 5pm to 6pm. They can trick-or-treat at stores and the mall will have stations with activities for the kids (Disney Junior, Ann Arbor Hands On Museum, etc.).

Now, if you think that after such a full schedule Saturday your Sunday would be free, you would be kidding yourself. October 27this the “Halloween Concert” at Hill Auditorium. Every year, University of Michigan music students put on a concert where all the musicians show up in costume and the public is also encouraged to come in costume. The music, of course, is very good, but it is also a fun concert to take your kids to. This is a very popular concert and tickets sell very fast. You can buy tickets at: http://tickets.smtd.umich.edu/single/eventlisting.aspx

On Halloween, October 31st, start your and your child’s day at the “Halloween Party” at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor Library (10am, first floor, for preschool to grade 3 kids). They will have stories, puppet show and trick-or-treat. More information at: http://aadl.org

From the library, go to Main Street for the “19thAnnual Halloween Treat Parade”, October 31, from 11am to 5pm. “Area merchants welcome your little costumed characters to the neighborhood with greets and treats.”

Afterwards, if you are taking your children trick-or-treating in your neighborhood remember that it happens between 6pm and 8pm (more or less). October nights can be nippy, so be prepared with a warmer version of your child’s costume. Not all houses/neighbors are into Halloween, so be sensible and see if the house has Halloween decorations, and if the homeowner appears to be open to children. For example, in our home we leave the door open and the porch light and Halloween decorations lighted between 6pm and 8pm. After 8pm, we close our door and turn off the lights and that means we are done giving out candy. Also, I personally feel that one parent should take the child trick-or-treating while the other parent should stay at home giving out candy. I know it is not always possible, but is also not fair to just take candies and never offer some to your neighbors. Again, be sensible: don’t steal candy from your kids and don’t eat or let your kids eat all the candy in one night. Also, you should not ask your children for candy as payment for all the work you do for them. I know it is tempting, but be strong. We will let you eat a lot of candy at the International Neighbors Halloween Party on October 17!