In case you haven’t noticed, it’s fall. The temperatures have dropped, the leaves are starting to tumble off of the branches and collect beneath tires, against the curbs, on windshields, even getting tangled in my hair sometimes if we are walking right under the tree at just the right moment when a gust of wind comes along to gently push those hanging on just by a thread to their journey downward. As if the tree huddles it’s branches closer to itself, shaking off the leaves that have dappled its branches while it shivers and settles a little deeper into its own bark while winter arrives slowly, a little more every day.
Fall is a grand time for my kind of fashion: sweater vests, V-necks, button-downs, corduroy jackets, scarves, hoodie sweatshirts under bomber jackets, boots. There are ample options this time of year for someone masculine of center.
But perhaps you are more on the feminine side, like my other girlfriend, Kristen, who is femme and who cherishes summer, wearing the least clothes possible, short skirts and dresses that tie at the shoulder and pencil skirts and spaghetti straps and bare legs and, if necessary, cardigans. Maybe, like her, you lament the end of summer, and aren’t quite sure how to layer your fall wardrobe with adequate warmth and style. Maybe you are always cold in the darker months, maybe you hate shivering, maybe you miss your summer kick-around flats and dress-up heels that are harder to wear casually when there’s snow on the ground.
Well, I don't know how much I can help with the fashion, but I can help with distraction. That is at least part of my job, as a partner to a southern femme when fall rolls around. Here are some of our secrets for getting through the next six months, until spring comes around again.
1. Give Her a Gift ... or Two
It never hurts to be generous. Pick up a really cute hat, gloves, and scarf set that she’ll be excited to wear. Check out Etsy for some ideas if you don’t have local stores to peruse. Get her a set before the season turns entirely so she’ll have something to look forward to, then watch how she wears it. Is the scarf too long? Does the hat mess up her hair? Maybe she needs earmuffs instead.
Upgrade around the holidays and incorporate your observations. She can always use more than one set, they are easy to lose. Accessories are an easy way to go, but also consider a) socks, especially knee-highs; b) pajamas; or c) a fluffy, cozy robe. Same goes for those of you who have a summer boyfriend in your life—he would appreciate some cozy winter wear in this transition.
2. Embark on a Culinary Adventure
Pick something you’ve always wanted to learn how to make well—and practice it at least once a month. Or twice a month, or once a week, depending on what it is. Biscuits? Pie crust? Soup? Perfect chocolate chip cookies? Panang curry? A martini? Investigate recipes, ask your friends over to try out your creations. Keep a log of how it turns out and what the suggestions are: too salty, not enough butter, too dense, not chewy enough. Just think, by the time spring rolls around, you’ll be practically a pro.
3. Go on a Getaway
What are the best things about winter? A roaring fireplace ... hot chocolate (possibly spiked with rum or peppermint Schnapps or Irish cream) ... good food ... lots of films to watch. Rent a cabin for a weekend, or, if you can’t get a cabin, a hotel room. Take a vacation at your own apartment, especially if you have a fireplace, and disconnect from the world.
4. Reinvest in Your Sex Life
Where else do you want to be on a cold, grey day than in bed, warm, piled with blankets and pillows? Take a sheet inventory and see if you can throw away the oldest and pick up a new set with a slightly higher thread count (trust me, it does make a difference!). Same with the pillows—are there ones you can retire? Do you need a new throw for the couch? What if you bought one that was extra soft and fluffy? I would advise avoiding those blankets with the armholes—you do want this to be cozy and sexy, after all, not lead to couch potato syndrome.
5. Take a Class
Dance lessons, cooking lessons, painting, sewing, interior design—pick something you and your sweetheart can do together, that you’ve always wanted to learn. There are many life skills that we can always brush up on.
Those repairs you’ve always meant to get to around the house? That project that you never quite finished? Well, now is the time. Make a list and tackle them, one by one. Make your home more cozy for these winter months. Put up some extra sparkly lights to add a little glitter, now that the sun is in the sky less and less.
7. Work Your Body
Go to the gym. Do yoga. Run on the first morning where you can see your breath. Take boxing lessons. Keep your body moving, even though the impulse during these cold months is to curl up. Your spring self will thank you.
8. Renew Your Library Membership
Go shopping on your own bookshelf. Those fiction books you purchased years ago, but never read? Start the opening chapter and see if you like it. Set aside some time after dinner with a cup of tea to immerse yourself in a book. Ask yourself which topics you’ve always wanted to know more about, and go get five books on that from the library. Turn off the TV, turn off the Internet, and see what you learn.
9. Start a New Social Group
See if your friends on Facebook want to do a winter book club reading all the Jane Austen novels, or Stephen King, or Emma Donoghue. Or maybe they’re more non-fiction queer history types, that’d make for a good book club. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit? Maybe you can find some friends to teach you and make a weekly date of it.
10. Start a New Hobby
Want to learn how to make jam? Brew beer? I bet the library has books on how to do that. Or maybe one of your friends already knows—this could be a good excuse to spend some quality time with a mentor, cousin, acquaintance whose company you enjoy. See what kind of new knowledge you can employ in these cold months, and find something to do with the extra time not spent in the sunshine.
And One to Grow On ...
Don’t forget, the holidays are just around the corner. If you start thinking about your holiday gifts now, you can put some real thought and time into the creation of those gifts. The most memorable gifts, to me, are either very thoughtful, homemade, or something I could never afford on my own—and in this recession, who really has the extra cash to give away something expensive? See if you can come up with some lovely things to create and give away. The Simple Dollar has some great homemade holiday gift ideas. Maybe it’s something your sweetheart and you can do together. Maybe it’ll lead to an exciting new hobby that you like to do together. If nothing else, it’ll be a lovely holiday gift.
With a little planning and forethought, falling into the winter with your sweetheart can be fun, simple, and made of new memories together.