Many people identify as Pumpkin Spice haters but one of the most common misconceptions is the nuanced difference between Pumpkin Spice Season and Bumpkin Mice Season. Few may realize however, no autumn-time mouse is created equal.

This study will ask the big questions like: Are there mice and if so, are they dressed as tiny little country bumpkins?

1. What kind of squash is involved?

The biggest distinction between Pumpkin Spice season and Bumpkin Mice season is, you guessed it: pumpkins. Although Pumpkin Spice Season is more pumpkin leaning, it’s important to discern the difference between the titular pumpkin spice variety of pumpkin, and the more versatile, autumn-time gourd. If you’re unsure, just ask yourself: can you imagine a family of mice living in this pumpkin?

2. Is there a lot of orange and yellow but not a lot of blue?

A telltale sign of Bumpkin Mice Season is COLOR SCHEME. Are you seeing a lot of oranges and yellows? Odds are you’re in the heart of Pumpkin Spice Season. Once you start seeing those cool blues and beiges? Yipee Kai Yay, slap on your bootstraps and garbage can lids because you might be right on your way to a jamboree and all your neighborhood vermin are invited.

3. What is the nature of the broom?

Another pertinent overlap of both pumpkin spice season and bumpkin mice season is BROOMS. Now this one is mired with nuance and can be where it gets a little tricky. Now it is undeniable that brooms play a big part in the spooky side of pumpkin spice season what with the tricks and treats at play but bumpkin mice do have a tendency to use brooms too. A good starting point is identifying whether or not you’d consider that broom gnarled. Can you imagine a tiny mouse tidying a miniature kitchen with this broom?

If the broom’s brush looks black and charred with a distinctive gold design on its handle and a red hue to the wood? Bury it. Bury it in your yard now. Burning it won’t work.

4. Are there mice?

If so, are they dressed as tiny little country bumpkins? What one may not realize in terms of Autumn time decor is that the presence of mice is PLENTIFUL. This is really where you may take a moment to think about the nature of the mouse at hand. Important questions may include: Are they playing the banjo? Do they have on overalls? Are they wearing an acorn cap as a hat? If they’re wearing a piece of candy corn as a dress? Whoah buddy hold your horses because you may in fact be looking at a mouse in the throws of pumpkin spice season.

5. Hay bale, hay bale what do you see?

As many would agree, a sign of changing times can often be a bale of hay. Though many Halloween-goers may enjoy partaking in the annual hay ride, for most rural denizens, hay bales are simply a part of everyday life. A good way to delineate between bales is to recite the classic nursery rhyme, “Hay Bale O’ Hay Bale,” which goes a little something like this:

Hay Bale O’ Hay Bale
Over hill and over dale
Is that a leaf, a snake or scale?
Perhaps it’s next to a small tin pail!

6. Are there scarecrows or are there scared crows?

If there’s one thing that there’s no shortage of in the country bumpkin lifestyle, it’s scarecrows. But why, one may ask, are there so darn many of them? Well, you guessed it. The answer is CROWS. A simple explanation for the presence of crows around a farm is the easy access to a number of tasty treats. But due to their gift-giving nature, crows often make the perfect sidekick for a bumpkin mouse, helping adorn their homes with treasures in exchange for grains and straw.

A major indicator of the pumpkin spice season, however, is if the crows themselves are scared. Now the presence of a scarecrow doesn’t necessarily mean those majestic black beauties are spooked. But if there’s a deep fright behind their eyes? You certainly may as well be sippin’ mulled cider with the ghosts and the ghouls.