TYLER, Texas — Sweaters, pumpkin spice coffee and bonfires! It's finally time to usher in the fall season!
From fun facts — to recipes — to the state's best fall landscapes, this guide is sure to get you ready for #SweaterWeather!
FUN FALL FACTS
Fall is an absolutely gorgeous time of year across the nation, but do you know the history behind it?
Fear not! The Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at Saint Vincent College has compiled a list to celebrate the season.
Fact No. 1: Americans typically refer to this time of year as “fall,” while the British use the word “autumn.” Both terms date back to the 16th century but before that it was called “harvest.
Fact No. 2: Fall was called “harvest” because of the “harvest moon” that occurs when the full moon is closest to the autumn equinox. Before man-made lighting, this moonlight was essential to a prosperous harvest.
Fact No. 3: Weight gain around this time of year may not only be due to comforting fall foods like pumpkin pie and cider, researchers have found that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage.
Fact No. 4: According to The Weather Channel, pumpkins are the most craved food during the fall. Although, if you’ve left the house anytime recently, this may not come as a surprise to you.
Fact No. 5: The yellow and orange colors you see actually always exist in leaves but they are overpowered by the abundance of green from chlorophyll. The amount of chlorophyll starts to decrease as the sun weakens and the days grow shorter.
Fact No. 6: Red and purple leaves are only that color because of the presence of sugars and sap that are trapped within the leaves. These sugars provide plants with the energy they need to survive.
Fact No. 7: Many birds will prepare for their winter migration during the fall. The distance they can travel is impressive; the Arctic Tern travels 11,000 miles each way for it’s annual migration. That’s no small feat.
Fact No. 8: Evergreen trees such as pines, cedars, and spruces stay green because their leaves (needles) are covered with thick wax and they contain materials that prevent freezing when it gets cold.
Fact No. 9: Men and women experience high levels of testosterone during the fall. This makes sense because more babies are conceived during the fall and winter. The cause is unknown but it could be due to lack of sunlight or even go back to ancient mating rituals.
Fact No. 10: We can’t forget Halloween! Halloween takes place in the fall and comes from ancient Celtic tradition. They believed that ghosts roamed on Halloween and people would wear disguises in order to hide from these spirits.
DID YOU KNOW?
FALL AND AGING
Could being born in the fall be the key to a long life? According to a 2011 study by the University of Chicago's Leonid A. Gavrilov and Natalia Gavrilova in the Journal of Aging Research, it just may be.
This study explored the effects of month of birth on the chances of survival to age 100.
"Months of birth for 1,574 validated centenarians born in the United States in 1880–1895 were compared to the same information obtained for centenarians' 10,885 shorter-lived siblings and 1,083 spouses," the study said. "Comparison was conducted using a within-family analysis by the method of conditional logistic regression, which allows researchers to control for unobserved shared childhood or adulthood environment and common genetic background. It was found that months of birth have significant long-lasting effect on survival to age 100: siblings born in September–November have higher odds to become centenarians compared to siblings born in March. A similar month-of-birth pattern was found for centenarian spouses. These results support the idea of early-life programming of human aging and longevity."
BOBBING FOR APPLES
Bobbing for apples has been a long-lived fun fall tradition. But, how did it get started?
According to History.com, the practice began as a British courting ritual, popular among young ladies and their potential beaus.
"There were several variations of game: In one set of rules, each apple was assigned to a potential mate," History.com said. "The bobber would then attempt to bite into the apple named for the young man she desired. If it only took her one try, they were destined for romance. If she succeeded with her second attempt, he would court her but their love would fade. If it took three tries, their relationship was doomed. Another approach to the game was a race to be the first to bite an apple; the first to emerge successful would be the first to marry."
Heart attacks decrease in the fall, research shows.
According to a study led by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, researchers found a 21% drop in the number of heart attacks the Tuesday after returning to standard time in the fall, when we gain an hour back.
FALL FOLIAGE IN TEXAS
If you're looking to take in the best fall foliage the Lone Star State has to offer — we've got you covered!
1. Lost Maples State Natural Area - 37221 FM 187 in Vanderpool
You may know Lost Maples for its fall color, but it is spectacular year-round. Visit any time to see abundant wildflowers, steep canyon walls and the scenic Sabinal River. The nature area is just two hours northwest of San Antonio.
2. Garner State Park - 234 RR 1050 in Concan
Fun traditions and beautiful scenery bring people back to Garner State Park time after time. Besides easy access to the Frio, the park offers many miles of hiking trails and camping options.
3. Angelina National Forest - 111 Walnut Ridge Road in Zavalla
The Angelina National Forest lies in the upper Gulf Coastal general plain province and the terrain is gently rolling. Longleaf pine is the predominant cover type in the southern portion, while loblolly and shortleaf pine are the dominant types in the rest of the forest.
4. Guadalupe Mountains National Park - 400 Pine Canyon in Salt Flat
Guadalupe Mountains National Park protects the world's most extensive Permian fossil reef, the four highest peaks in Texas, an environmentally diverse collection of flora and fauna, and the stories of lives shaped through conflict, cooperation and survival. Come experience mountains and canyons, desert and dunes, night skies and spectacular vistas within a place unlike any other within the NPS.
5. Caddo Lake State Park - 245 Park Road 2 in Karnack
Bald cypress trees draped with Spanish moss tower over the maze of bayous, sloughs and ponds of Caddo Lake. Paddle the waterways, stay in a historic cabin or try your luck fishing.
6. Tyler State Park - 789 Park Road 16 in Tyler
Tyler State Park features a cool, 64-acre spring-fed lake, 100-foot tall trees, and historic structures. Play at the lake, wet a hook, wander through the woods, or relax with your binoculars. You will love this peaceful get-away in Northeast Texas.
7. Daingerfield State Park - 455 Park Road 17 in Daingerfield
Tall trees reach for the sky in the northeast corner of Texas. Explore life in the forest at Daingerfield State Park as you wander the trails, paddle Little Pine Lake or relax at your campsite.
8. Dinosaur Valley State Park - 1629 Park Road in Glen Rose
Long ago, dinosaurs left footprints in the mud at the edge of an ancient ocean. Today, you can walk in their tracks in the bed of the Paluxy River. This long trip to the past is just a short drive from Fort Worth.
9. Lake Bob Sandlin State Park - 341 State Park Road 2117 in Pittsburg
Two ecoregions meet here on the shore of Lake Bob Sandlin in northeast Texas. The result: massive trees, tall grasses and a fascinating mix of plants and animals. The fishing is pretty good, too!
10. McKinney Falls State Park - 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway in Austin
Listen to Onion Creek flowing over limestone ledges and splashing into pools. Follow trails winding through the Hill Country woods. Explore the remains of an early Texas homestead and a very old rock shelter. All of this lies within Austin’s city limits at McKinney Falls State Park — what are you waiting for?
FALL FAVORITE RECIPES
If you're looking to impress in the kitchen this fall, try one of these fall-inspired recipes!