Saturday, October 18, 2014

Homesick for Fall

I absolutely love fall.  I love the cooler weather and crisp air, the colorful leaves, wearing boots and scarves, sipping apple cider or homemade soups... and consuming all things pumpkin.  But, living here in the tropics means that we really only experience fall through Facebook photos of friends' kids at the pumpkin patch or frolicking in leaf piles.  Throughout our six years in Costa Rica, the months of October and November are always my most homesick times.  Over the years, I've learned to adapt and make the most of these months being the rainiest months here; I can kind of pretend that the slightly cooler temperatures feel like fall (I actually wore jeans for a full day this week without feeling hot once!). 

When we were newly arrived missionaries still in language school, I was having a hard time with not being able to take our baby to the pumpkin patch, so I posted a "tropical version" of the optimal fall photo shoot:

October 2008 - our first "fall" in the tropics
 A few years ago, we were back in the States on furlough in the fall and it was glorious!  Since then, when there is an especially cool day during our rainy season, I try to do some fall activities to ease my homesickness for fall, and the kids love remembering their special time in the fall in the States.  The kids and I throw and jump in cloth leaves in the living room, or walk down to the mango grove at the end of our street and hear the crunch of the dead leaves under our feet.  We roast vegetables and drink hot tea and, now that I'm acclimated to the tropical heat, I'll even pull out a pair of boots and a light scarf on the coolest of evenings.   

The longer we've lived here, the more and more rice and black beans we eat, but when it's fall in the States, I want to make (and eat!) fall-ish food.  Last week, an American team blessed me and a sweet Costa Rican friend with a fun trip to the capital city here, where they took us to Starbucks (isn't that funny that there is a Starbucks even here, in the land of coffee?).  They bought us pumpkin spice lattes and it was like balm to my homesick heart.  As I sipped what they referred to as "fall in a cup," I was surprised about how something as simple as a pumpkin-y drink could make me feel at home and blessed.  And, sharing something so simple with one of my closest Costa Rican friends, who knew of my recent homesickness, made a sweet connection between my life in the States and my life here. 

We're not quite dressed for fall, but we'll take what we can get!
Are you feeling homesick these days?  While, of course, we want to spend the majority of our efforts on adapting to and learning about our host cultures, I would encourage you to sometimes enjoy some of your home culture, too.  This will probably look different for each of us... for me, in the fall months, at least, it means lots and lots of baking.  So, tomorrow come back here to get my favorite fall pumpkin recipe! 

I would love to hear from you in the comment section today!  Do you have fall where you live?  If so, what fall traditions does your host culture have?  If not, what fall traditions do you still enjoy in spite of not having fall weather? 

Come back tomorrow for my favorite recipe, and to share your favorite fall recipe in the comments!


  1. We're from Seattle but live in St. Petersburg, Russia, so we have the same four seasons, but I definitely would miss all of the Fall comfort foods if we didn't make them. I make a lot of pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin soups, apple cider... I love the cozy feel of Fall here but Winter is the season that I struggle. It is LONG and COLD and DARK. It becomes exhausting, mostly due to lack of sunlight and the work of having to bundle up so much (and having to bundle 4 kids anytime we leave the house). I am thankful that there are tons of holidays in the winter months for us. We have all of our traditional American holidays, Russian holidays, two birthdays, our wedding anniversary, and others all in a two month span. I have heard that Russians planned some of their holidays specifically for those months to keep people's spirits up during the long cold months. Great thinking, Russia! =) So, I guess that isn't specifically about homesickness, but I think if it weren't for all of the celebration placed in those months that I'd struggle with homesickness more then.

  2. Ashley, I lived in St. Petersburg for part of a year (not including winter!) and I remember wondering during the long "white nights" of summer how I would cope with the long dark days of winter there. I can imagine that it would be a time that would lend itself to feeling down and homesick. Thanks for sharing! (And, maybe share your pumpkin spice latte recipe? -- I'm craving another one, but making it all the way to Starbucks again is impractical!!!).

  3. I am in El Salvador and I totally agree...October and November are my most homesick months too! We have Starbucks here too and I heard a rumor that this year they are actually selling Pumpkin Spice lattes!