Autumn was only six days old. Yet even in infancy, this new season was a presence—the air was crisper, the temperature cooler, the cloudless sky a purer blue. A friend and I, eager to bid farewell to another stifling Texas summer, chose to welcome this change of pace with a girls’-afternoon-out in the sweet Hill Country town of Boerne. We leisurely filled hours with those stereotypical hallmarks of gathering, socializing females: lunching, shopping, gabbing. And we threw in pumpkin picking for good measure.

Boerne is a card-carrying member of Texas’s German heritage. The namesake of Ludwig Böerne (a writer whose work helped inspire the exodus of freedom-seeking Germans in the mid-1800’s), this serene spot nestled nearly twenty miles northwest of the Alamo City is home to some architecture gems, including the Kendall County Historic Courthouse, which was built in 1869 and is the second oldest courthouse still in use in our state; the Dienger Building, which was once a general store and is now a public library; and the Kuhlmann-King Historical House, which dates back to 1885.

Our visit to this hamlet of a little more than seven thousand people didn’t pack a lot of oompah, but it started pleasantly enough with a cruise down the central drag (a.k.a. Hauptstrasse or Main Street). After parking our carriage—er, Honda Civic—we set our sights on heeding the grumblings of stomachs at midday. The Bear Moon Bakery helped nicely. Charming is cliched terminology, especially in small towns, but Bear Moon is just that: wooden floors inside, a handful of tables out (good for ogling dog walkers, cyclists, and other fall enthusiasts), and a decent sampling of soups, salads, sandwiches, and sweets (the delicious carrot cake served us well). A finer backdrop for catching up we could not have asked for.

With our yearnings for food and story-swapping sated, we girls moved next to the shopping, of which Boerne has a healthy supply. Antiques houses, havens for clever knickknacks, and art galleries—there’s definitely cause to bring along those other dear friends, MasterCard and Visa. And when the goods are packaged with cutesy names like Buy Buy Birdie, Hippie Chicks, or the Iron Pigtail, well, they’re even harder to resist. Admittedly, our visit turned out to be mostly one of browsing, but we liked what we saw, which included everything from jewelry and furniture to dried flowers and pickles (yes, you can check out the latter at Carousel Antiques and Pickles).

The rest of the afternoon was free for exploring. We found our first stop easily: a pumpkin patch we had noticed on the drive in. Well, it wasn’t a true pumpkin patch, more like a gathering of already-picked gourds. But the folks at the First United Methodist Church did a dandy job of picking some fine ones of all shapes and sizes. We found ourselves a petite pumpkin, one with no certain future as a jack-o’-lantern, but we liked its curlicue of a stem (all piglets would be envious). Mission accomplished.

Finding the Cave Without a Name, a stalactite-and-stalagmite-filled natural attraction that I had read about, proved a bit more difficult. Now we could suggest that our ineptitude in finding this natural attraction can be blamed on one obvious reason—said place has no name—but in all honesty, human stupidity prevented our arrival. Maps are a good thing. Gas station attendants who point in the direction of a venue are not. After following the cue of one’s finger for nearly ten miles, we gave up, lesson learned, and chalked Cave Without A Name up to “maybe next time around.”