Fall brings to mind many things – crisp fresh air, brisk mornings, cool nights by the fire, apple picking, hayrides, and of course the start of school. Over the years, all of these things have also become inextricably tied up with coffee, Dunkin’ being a Rhode Islander’s coffee of choice. As soon as the first leaf falls, I giddily trade my Coffee Cake Muffin in for a Pumpkin Muffin and (unlike many of my fellow New Englander’s who are die hard, year round, iced coffee fans) a hot cup of Dunkin’ is my constant companion as I sit in the carpool line. This year I even caved and tried an apple cider donut and found that it satisfied my craving – a few years in Upstate New York turned me into a bit of a cider donut snob, so I was pleasantly surprised.
The one thing that Fall in New England does not bring to mind is carnivals. Carnivals are decidedly “summer” (and I typically try to avoid them). However, this year, Dunkin’ invited us to the Misquamicut Beach Fall Fest, and so, despite the cool weather, and the yearning for a fresh apple pie to be baking in the oven, we headed down to the ocean – memories dancing about in my head.
I’ve always considered my oldest to be a fairly cautious child. He’s earnest and intense and a rule follower. As an infant he always orbited me – I’d watch as he crawled around a corner… other adults would jump up to follow him but I’d stay put knowing that as soon as he realized I was out of his sight he’d immediately turn around and come back for me.
He always did.
So when he was about 4 and my husband wanted to take him to a local carnival I balked a bit. It just seemed like it would be a waste. There was no way that my cautious, risk-averse little boy would want to go on carnival rides. But I relented and we went.
As I expected, my son was initially apprehensive – warily eyeing the various rides as my husband tried to convince him that they’d be fun. Finally, he relented and agreed to go on a small, toddler-sized roller coaster. I watched as he made his way up to the seat, stealing nervous glances back at us. I watched as he checked and double-checked the seatbelt, clearly not confident that the ride operator had buckled it correctly. I watch as he fidgeted nervously, waiting for the ride to begin and I waited for him to panic and change his mind.
The ride started.
And I watched as the world’s biggest grin broke out onto his face and he began to giggle. As that tiny roller coaster rattled around the track he laughed uproariously with a look of pure joy on his face.
As we headed to Misquamicut Beach Fall Fest this weekend, I wondered what he would think about the “big kid” rides and I discovered that he is a far cry from risk-averse these days. Straining to see if he was tall enough for the “big kid” rides he begged to go on rides that were too scary for even me. (Pro tip – always bring a ride-loving uncle to carnivals with you… he spoiled those kids rotten and gleefully stepped up to the plate on those scary rides while I sipped my iced coffee in peace). It is such a joy to watch your children pushing themselves to try new things and overcome fears. And because we had wristbands this time, unlike just getting tickets when we’ve gone to carnivals before, he was able to go on the scariest ones again and again – and in doing so seeing how his fear lessened and his excitement grew with each attempt. Life lessons at a carnival, who knew?
It was also heartwarming to see a bit of that old cautious side peeking out as he sat in the teacups with my 5-year-old and checked and double-checked that his little brother’s seatbelt was secure.
And guys. If you’re going to go to a carnival, the Miscuamicut Beach Fall Fest is truly the one to go to. The vendors were on point (I’m admittedly a bit kettle corn obsessed, but Canterbury Kettle Corn was next level), The Dunkin’ truck was there sampling the newest fall flavors (The Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Latte is the stuff fall dreams are made of), and the view of the ocean from the top of the Ferris Wheel was unbeatable. Plus there was something particularly charming about being able to pop over to the beach to eat our cotton candy.
If you missed Fall Fest this year, be sure to follow Misquamicut Beach on Facebook for updates on next year’s event and as you check off the rest of your fall bucket list, bring along Dunkin’s line-up of Fall Flavors – apple cider donuts and munchkins, pumpkin donuts and muffins, and that perennial favorite – Pumpkin Coffee – the essence of fall poured right into a cup.