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Column: The Candy Corn Approach

We’re all familiar with this Halloween staple, a small pyramid-shaped candy, classically divided into three sections of different colors representing the fall harvest — yellow, orange and white.

Not only am I partial to the taste of these ultra-sweet, honey- and vanilla-flavored waxy little treats, I also think the optics of candy corn works extremely well to provide a visual of how to live and enjoy Shelter Island.

The Candy Corn Approach is envisioning that each color represents one of three ways to enjoy and enhance the magnificence of living on, or visiting Shelter Island.

The relative quiet in the autumn season after a busy and boisterous summer is a good opportunity to appreciate the experiences that have become routine, expand upon our familiarities, and try something new.

Yellow: The Foundation

This color is the sturdy base of the candy corn. It represents the activities and places that we enjoy so much they’ve become part of our normal regimens and customs. For our family, these foundational activities synonymous with “fall on Shelter Island” are hikes in Mashomack, bike rides and Saturday morning visits to the farm stand.

Everyone has their own variation of idyllic autumnal activities, and these traditions are born out of the convention and rituals that bring us joy. Whatever these are for you, they should remain as the basis of happiness and memory-making.

Orange: The Middle Layer

Activities and experiences in the orange layer represent taking a new approach to something you already know. This is the opportunity to push us outside of our comfort zones, while staying in the range of the well-known. For example: I love to run, most especially in the mornings, on Shelter Island, in the fall.

The “orange layer” for me means still doing the same thing, but trying a new jogging route, or running at a different time of the day. It could also mean going to Stars Café as we usually do, but ordering something outside of my regular order from the menu.

White: The Summit

This is the ambitious apex and highest point of attainment or aspiration. It’s also the smallest surface area in regards to the actual proportion of the candy corn. Think of this as the opportunity to try something new. Just one (perhaps teeny tiny) thing. This can refer to something literally new — like dining at a just-opened restaurant, or something that is just “new to you.”

Maybe there’s a store or an established retailer that has been there, but you just haven’t visited. I see the white as a chance to push myself outside of the usual and established habits by intentionally seeking out experiences and activities that we’ve never tried.

This year on the list for “new” could include the Trucks & Trades Fair, a first-time event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce earlier this fall. Perhaps it’s time to cheer on one of the high-school teams by attending a game or supporting a local fundraiser that you’ve wanted to in the past.

Despite my strong fondness (ahem, addiction) for candy corn, I recognize that this is a highly controversial little item of confectionery.

It’s a polarizing “love it or hate it” candy, but whether you think it’s delicious or disgusting (there appears to be no in-between), appreciate the tri-colored imagery for establishing a mantra to continue to enjoy, while seeking out ways to enhance and expand upon life on Shelter Island.