By MIKE NORTON Autumn is the briefest season, and the season I'm most loathe to let go of. Now, as it gives up these last few days of beauty before inevitably slipping away, I find myself doing as much as I can to prolong the experience. Paddling out onto the bay, riding the bicycle a few more times, even raking up the leaves, all seem to be bittersweet rituals of farewell. And so we come to Halloween. The time of goblins and witches for some of us, of saints and angels for others. And for everyone, I trust, lots of cold cider and warm donuts and the scent of fallen sun-crisped leaves. And if you're not interested in the annual spookfest that's Halloween in Traverse City, here's a different suggestion for the coming weekend: the Holiday Art Fair at the Dennos Museum Center. As you may or may not know, the Dennos is one of the finest small art museums in the country; this annual Art Fair features the same attention to exquisite beauty and high quality, as well as its habit of featuring fine arts and crafts by Michigan artists. Artists are encouraged to bring original art in all price ranges, but especially items below $30, so customers have lots of choices for choosing original art as a holiday gift. These are handmade, unusual gifts -- the kind that make museum stores a special place to shop. The fair will be held Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Fine arts and crafts from 50 area artists, Christmas and Hanukkah gifts, arts and crafts kits and more are just a few of the enticements for holiday shoppers. Looking for special gifts for children? They've got a selection of craft kits and a variety of books relating to all the arts, sciences and the Inuit peoples. There are many wonderful small "stocking stuffers" for kids and many small gift items children can chose as gifts for family and friends. One event that's been added to the fair is a benefit "art raffle" to help schools offset the cost of museum visits. Over 2,000 students benefited from the money raised in last year's raffle. The holiday artists have donated a piece of art for the raffle. Tickets will be only sold on site for $2 each and 6/$5. Any questions? Call them at 231-995-1586
- A Twilight Paddle past Neahtawanta Point at Bowers Harbor
Next weekend? Man, it's November already! But be of good cheer - the folks in the wine country of the Leelanau Peninsula are ready to brighten that often-dismal month with some tasty wine and food pairings. It's the annual "Toast the Season" wine touring event organized by the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. For the next two weekends (Nov. 5-6 and Nov. 12-13) you can take a self-guided tour of up to eight wineries each day -- in any order you choose - to sample some of those fine Leelanau wines paired with foods made by local chefs. I've seen the menu, and it made my mouth water. Not good when you're working with an electronic keyboard. Here's how the tour works: one of the 19 Leelanau member wineries is designated as your "starting winery." When you arrive, they give you a commemorative glass, a holiday ornament, a souvenir wine key and a holiday gift bag featuring local food including fair trade coffee from Higher Grounds Trading Company of Traverse City, cocoa-coated chocolate covered almonds from Grocer's Daughter Chocolate in Empire, and (of course) Michigan cherries from Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor. Tickets for Toast the Season are $50 per person or $75 per couple (couple ticket holders receive two glasses, pours and food at each winery, but only one gift bag and ornament). You can order them online at http://www.lpwines.com/toast/.
- Fall Color in the Lake Leelanau Wine Country