Meghan and Destiny Mulvihill are racing to finish their fall bucket lists before the temperature drops – portending four to five long months of cold, slush and dark.
They bought pumpkins at a patch in North Collins. Then they picked apples at a nearby farm. Now, as a near-cloudless Sunday afternoon fades toward evening, the two sisters-in-law watch their kids run around the playground at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.
Oct. 13, they acknowledged, was a rare and precious afternoon: the elusive, autumnal Sunday without a Bills game or bad weather forecast – ideal for the last of the year’s outdoor adventures.
“We’re trying to get it all in before it snows,” said Meghan, of Blasdell, drawing the hood of her sweatshirt up against the wind off the water.
Western New Yorkers may understand better than most exactly how finite such days are. Temperatures like Sunday’s, which cleared 65 degrees, disappear about this time and don’t resurface until early summer, according to averages compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That may explain why flanneled families were out in force on Sunday: hauling boats out of the water at Safe Harbor Marina, leaf-peeping at Knox Farm State Park and circling the Delaware Park Golf Course, shed layers tossed over shoulders.
At the Outer Harbor – a stretch of lakeside that grows almost arctic when Lake Erie ices over – the Mulvihill kids played beside families that trekked in from as far as Angola and Rochester. Some wore flip-flops. Some wore puffer coats. It’s a puzzling season.
DJ Tybor, sporting Buffalo Bills socks, said he and his wife, Gabriella, spend fall Sundays watching football – but took advantage of the bye week to schedule some time with their 3-year-old nephew, Jian Luca, instead.
“It’s 100% an opportunity to get outside,” said Tybor. “And it doesn’t hurt that in a single afternoon, you can tire out a dog and a kid.”
Further down the bike path, Amber Hooper and her two young sons had a similar idea. The family loves visiting this park, Hooper said, but contends with all sorts of scheduling conflicts during the peak season. So as the wind picked up – 14 mph, but still “cool” rather than “crisp” – the three sat on the rocks near the marina and squinted at the boaters pulling their crafts out for winter storage.
“It must be cold on the water, but it’s still awesome out here,” Hopper said. “I just wish it’d stay like this for trick-or-treating.” She admits that isn't likely to happen.
Then again, temperatures in Western New York aren’t plummeting quite yet. Those who missed out last weekend will get a do-over next Sunday, Oct. 20, when highs should again top out in the upper 60s, according to the National Weather Service.
Of course, the Monday after won’t be a holiday. And the Bills play the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m.
“Fathers love football,” said Tom Finnerty, who watched his kids, Quinn and Grady, play. “And I think the wind out here already turned some people off.”
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