Fall is here again; some people see this as a time to sit inside a warm house with a cup of eggnog and a favorite movie on the TV. While this is fun and all, fall is my favorite time of the year for other reasons. I see it as a time of hayrides and hiking, and camping with friends, a time to get outside and have a blast. From Derthick’s Corn Maze to Monroe’s Orchard and Farm, we are lucky to live in Hiram since it is surrounded by local businesses that make fall a great time for everyone. These fall activities are not only fun for all ages, but by turning off your TV and Xbox to go with friends to pick apples and raspberries or get lost in corn maze you are doing yourself and the environment a lot of good.
Being outside is natural for humans, and it’s good for us. Playing outside is what school kids look forward to and what makes summer so much fun. In recent years this play has been disappearing in our schools because we are forgetting the value of play. “Play deprivation is bad for children… it promotes anxiety, depression, suicide, narcissism, and loss of creativity”. Play on the other hand allows children to be creative, problem solve, and interact as social creatures. Playing, with its countless benefits, is not all that you get from going outside.
Studies from the University of Rochester show that spending time outside makes people feel more energized, happier, and in general more alive. “…The very presence of nature helps to ward off feelings of exhaustion and that 90 percent of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities.” If going outside can make me feel that much better than sign me up! Time spent outside can increase your immune system’s resilience and ward off feelings of tiredness. Going apple picking or taking a hike at the James H. Barrow field station can be just what you need to kick the mid-semester slump (yes it’s week 6, yikes!).
Going outside is not only good for you; it is good for the environment. By turning off the lights, the computer, and your other gadgets before leaving the house, dorm, or apartment you are saving energy. If you want to know how much energy you use, and how much you could save this is a really cool interactive website, in my opinion, so take a look! One gadget most of us have is a TV. A TV by itself use an average of 300 KWH, per month, costing about $2.80, which is not a lot. This varies from TV to TV but it also depends on how much it is on and if it is left plugged in all the time. Turning a TV off for an extra 2 or 3 hours a week may not seem like a lot in savings of electricity of money, but when multiplied by the 114.7 million TV’s in the U.S. today then the impact is huge.
If you have never tasted a fresh picked apple then I’m sorry. I insist that you go do so not only for your taste buds. When you buy apples and other local food you are buying sustainably. An apple bought from the grocery store goes through a long process to get there, starting in an orchard (usually a mono-crop orchard) then harvested with machines, and shipped to a store near you accumulating food miles or the transport distance it needs to go and other resources required. Buying apples or pumpkins at a local farm like Monroe’s cuts out all those food miles except from the farm to your home. Plus these apples taste awesome, and picking them is fun.
These activities are only a few examples of what you can do to get outside. There are hundreds of other things to do around here like hiking in a park, canoeing, visiting a haunted house or forest, going to the zoo, camping, sledding in the winter, or just plain old playing outside. It can be for a few hours or for a whole weekend. The important thing is that you unplug and get outside. So during those fall days when you are bored with your friends, or your family is looking for something to do, think outside the box and get outside. The fall is full of fun to be had, and no farther than up the road. By doing so you will feel better, reduce your carbon footprint, and create great memories along the way.
So prepare yourself for the unexpected weather of Ohio and get outside to enjoy the fall! This is Courtney Freyhauf for Hiram's SEEDS Scholars, over and out!
Above Photo from Derthick’s Corn Maze.