Thursdays are splash pad days at daycare. My daughter (6) and her friends walk down to the beach in their swimsuits, weighed down with towels and totes for a day of fun in the water.


This week as we left for our usual Thursday morning, she already in her swimsuit (and shorts) and I in my usual work wear shirt and jeans, we stepped outside to discover that it was cold. Damn cold.


"It's sooo chilly!" my daughter quipped. "It feels like...hot chocolate and pumpkin pie."


She was right. It was unusually cold for an August morning, although living in Canada I suppose we should be used to it. But it wasn't just a cold morning. It actually smelled like autumn -- like it needed hot chocolate and pumpkin pie. Good observation. Luckily she had a hoodie in the car from the day before.


I like the fall. The colours are amazing, of course, and the food is just the best. With fall harvests come some of my favourite sets of produce, and I'm dying to get into a new season of apple pies and butternut squash soup. There's something heavenly about that mixture of almost-arctic air combined with the scent of apples and cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice that to me just feels transformative.


To cure this itch, I did this: fill a tea ball with equal parts whole allspice and whole cloves. Drop that in a saucepan of plain old apple juice, along with a cinnamon stick. Bring that to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and simmer for about an hour. It'll reduce by about half, so watch it doesn't burn (if you want to drink it, that is). The smell alone will completely blow your mind.


I don't know why I started my love affair with the fall. I think it goes back to my school days. To me, the start of the school year was the "new year" for me. New challenges, new adventures, new stuff. That was the time for renewal, not January 1st. Not the first day of spring (which is still winter where I come from). The first day of school.


Fall is also the best time for style, in my opinion. Winter covers everything from head to toe. It's just to damn cold to look good all the time. Summer OK, but for the most part I find it too hot to wear my best stuff all the time. You can't combo great jeans with a button up shirt and blazer when it's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. But in the fall, when the gorgeous wool jackets come out. Sweaters and boots become works of art, and elements of choice, instead of downright necessities. And that suit with a scarf finally makes sense (and doesn't look the slightest bit crazy).


I think the big bonus that I see with fall is this: It's not the deep freeze of winter, or the broiling steam heat of summer. It's cool, in the middle, like spring, but without the mess of all that melt off. It's the smell of leaves on the wind, warm afternoons and chilly nights in flannel. It's the perfect balance of comfort and anticipation, the best food and the best times outdoors.


And it's almost Christmas...