The signs of summer are fading into the horizon, and Fall is slowly creeping into Iowa. There are just some 'rights of passage' that people from Iowa get to do, or in some cases 'have to do', this time of year.

I'll miss summer in Iowa. It's hard to beat the great outdoors under the hot sun, but it's the fall season that I enjoy the most. I love that slight nip in the morning air. By the afternoon, I'll shed that coat and enjoy the warm sun. When the dusk hits, we get to snuggle up with that special someone to stay warm (wink-wink). I have a ton of fond fall memories, and I love to carry on those traditions. Well, most of them anyway.

little girl picking apple
Photo: ThinkStock

How many of us can remember the family getting packed into the car to spend the day at the apple orchard, and/or how many of us do that to our kids now?

Then next weekend rolls around, and we drag the entire family to spend the day at the pumpkin patch.

You can spend an entire day raking leaves into big piles.

Hawkeye fans and Cyclone fans trash-talk the other leading up the Cy-Hawk Football game during #HateWeek.

The kids make us laugh us as the run and jump into those big pile of leaves.

We spend the next day re-raking the leaves back into piles. We're not laughing now.

Depending on the year, Hawkeye fans or Cyclone fans remind the other who won on that Saturday after Labor Day. It's even sweeter for me when my Panthers cause a stir in the Iowa college football lore.

Who hasn't bought sweet corn from complete strangers camping out on the side of the road. Any other time of the year, you wouldn't even slow down enough to see what was going on there.

(Photo: ThinkStock)

The smell of a bonfire and s'mores is the best, but seriously, can someone help me NOT burn my marshmallows this time?

I always find it funny when I get lost in a corn maze. I mean, it's just corn. Walk through it, but instead I wonder around until I find that 'over achiever dad' who brought a compass and a map he lifted off of Google Maps. Cheater, but thanks for helping me escape.

It sounds crazy to people from New Mexico, but we love those long drives where we wonder around aimlessly through the hills just to look at the changing leaves. I supposed when you live in a desert...

When we get home, we grab the rake and make a few more piles of leaves.

Hayrides with family, friends, and hot cyder are the best. Especially if the cyder is spiked.

When the nip in the air starts to bit, we suddenly changing our diet to nothing but grand ma's homemade chili or any thing we can cram into a crock pot.

'Trick-or-treating' in Iowa is a crap shoot. Some years we had to cover up our costume with a winter coat. It's no big deal; it's just an Iowa thing. Now we just wear a coat as we take the kids from house to house. All the while taking a careful inventory of what YOU will be taking for yourself. Quality control, right?

More raking of leaves, seriously, where are they coming from?

Brewing a 'special' batch of 'liquid' Apple Pie in a big jug is a given.

(Photo: ThinkStock)

It's all about football on the weekends. We love the high school Friday night lights. Most say they're there on Saturday to cheer on their favorite college team, but we all know the ones who are there just for the tailgate, okay the free beer.

Where's that damn rake? "I think these leaves came from the neighbor's trees this time. Next summer I'm cutting that @#$&@ tree down."

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