Tag Archives: Autumn leaves

Thankfulness after Thanksgiving

Have you already decorated your Christmas tree(s)?

Not me. Pumpkins, fall leaves and acorns still adorn my fireplace mantels and front door.

This decorating delay doesn’t indicate inefficiency on my part — perish the thought! It does reflect autumn’s short season. Thanksgiving items are placed on clearance before kids trick-or-treat.

Given that many hate winter, why do we forget fall so fast? Why not linger in Thanksgiving Land?

It was wild and wonderful, wasn’t it?

Even if I had to shovel out spare rooms and wash sheets.

Even if wrestling the defiant turkey into the oven resembled a Friday Night SmackDown sans tights and sparkles.

Even if appliances didn’t feel blessed. Our disposal rebelled Thanksgiving morning. Worse, our oven adopted a relativistic philosophy, insisting if its controls read “350,” the actual 500-degree temperature was irrelevant.

Even if, having stocked up on dark meat because we ran out last year, I was asked if our turkey was a mutant. Ditto for yeast rolls that resembled trolls.

Even if drains and conversations occasionally clogged.

And I can’t pretend I have six months to Christmas shop. …

Still, with four generations feasting and sharing gratitude to God, our Thanksgiving was a blessed celebration.

Admittedly, the grandchildren’s sugar energy levels could have endangered not only our house, but the entire city block. Thankfully, we all defused at a large community room I’d rented.

No one sent the Monopoly game airborne when he landed on Boardwalk with hotels.

Everyone ate mutant turkey and rolls.

Not only was there enough pie for all 17 diners, plenty remained for Grandma and Grandpa’s post-host-survival celebration.

Despite that, I still can zip my jeans! — and ignore nasty online pop-ups advertising tent-sized attire for New Year’s Eve.

Bottom line: Our family arrived safely, rejoiced, loved, and gave thanks together, then returned home, grateful to again sleep in their own beds.

Can such a rich celebration be considered a mere practice run?

We can correct whatever went wrong at Thanksgiving to improve Christmas gatherings. Hosts can repair the carbonizing oven and replace air mattresses that flattened overnight. Hubby watched a YouTube video that helped him fix the disposal. I might even practice making rolls that look like … rolls.

Image by Richard Duijnstee from Pixabay.

Soon autumn decorations in our home will give way to poinsettias, evergreens and jingle bells. A Christmas tree will grace our living room window.

But thanksgiving won’t be packed away until next November.

I pray it saturates my Christmas season … and New Year’s … and Easter 2024 … and …

Image by Deborah Hudson from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are your reasons for thanksgiving, even after Thanksgiving?

Jack Frost: Terror, Trickster or Artist?

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.

Given hurricanes and fires across our nation, why the drama about Jack Frost’s arrival?

I understand why his ancestor, Jokul Frosti, a scary old giant, made northern Europeans want to flee to Florida. However, I don’t get Jack’s German great-great-grandma, “Mother Frost.” What mom in her right mind would initiate the never-ending rituals of zipping coats and searching for mittens and boots?

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

The Jack Frost I encountered during first grade seemed friendly. Our teacher read stories about Jack painting trees’ foliage with brilliant colors. He froze mud puddles into brittle layers we stomped when mothers weren’t looking. He carved icy designs on windows we licked to see if they tasted as sugary as they looked.

Still, Jack never rated the attention we gave other holidays. The obvious reason for his lack of popularity: Nobody received presents or candy in Jack’s honor.

As adults, we harbor mixed feelings about him. Many welcome Jack’s fall arrival far more than spring visits, when gardeners cover freshly planted seedlings. In spring, according to the Fruit Growers News, some farmers even hire hovering helicopters to warm trees and prevent Jack’s mischief.

Yet we fall fanatics celebrate russet, gold, melon and chocolate hues Jack paints on hardwoods’ leaves. James Whitcomb Riley would approve of the silvery sheen he spreads on pumpkins.

Allergy sufferers like my husband welcome Jack Frost with open arms. Hubby also celebrates mowing less often.

However, Jack gets carried away with fall decorating. Not content to paint individual leaves, he arranges thousands to beautify our lawn.

Jack also seems to enjoy watching plant lovers like myself scurry around our yards like squirrels. We haul flowerpots inside — though where we will park 43 ferns and geraniums, we have no idea.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay.

Also, Jack is super-thin. Can I trust someone that skinny?

His arrival portends ice that isn’t as pretty as his window designs. Sooner, not later, his Jokul Frosti side shows up.

At least, meteorologists — unlike their treatment of hurricanes and blizzards — don’t give Jack a new name each time he appears. Frankly, I couldn’t take Arnold Frost seriously.

Despite mixed feelings, this fall fanatic continues to admire Jack’s exquisite autumn colors and stomp through frozen puddles in his honor.

But lick icy windows?

Probably not.

Image by Aida Khubaeva from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you see Jack Frost?

The Catch-Up-to-Fall Challenge

Image by Alper omer essin from Pixabay.

Many homeowners in my small town not only have caught up with fall, they can rock on porches or by fireplaces — depending on temperatures — until Thanksgiving.

Their scraggly flowers now nourish compost piles. These Fall Go-Getters ordered bulbs in July and have planted them in well-fertilized beds.

Why hurry them to the compost pile? They’re still blooming, aren’t they?

On a scale of one to five, they’ve earned a six.

My flowerbeds? Half-dead blooms huddle around my house — though the fake, sunflower-laden hat on our front door earns two points.

Super-organized souls not only keep up with the seasons, they forge ahead. By August, autumn wreaths adorned their doors. “Welcome, Fall!” signs, pumpkins and jewel-colored chrysanthemums decorated their porches by September 1. Six points.

One house boasted acres of inflatable skeletons and chain saw murderers. Must I give credit to these scary overachievers?

Sigh. They must have worked day and night. Six points.

However, I itched to inform those Halloween enthusiasts about my porch’s genuine spider webs, which stick to visitors when they enter. Now, that’s fall authenticity. Three points for me.

Image by M.H. from Pixabay.

Especially since cobwebs abound not only outside, but inside. Cleaning disturbs autumn’s ambience, so I avoid it. Two points for me.

I do envy self-starters their autumn interior décor (six points again). Fireplace mantels boast Hobby Lobby’s colorful leaves and fall flower arrangements, 50 percent off. Mine still features tulips — but peach-colored, like some fall leaves. Don’t they count for a half-point?

So far, Go-Getters have scored 24 points. Me? Seven-and-a-half.

Image by Katherine Gomez from Pixabay.

But, wait. There’s more!

Go-Getters’ freezers, defrosted last spring, abound with perfectly stacked storage containers of homegrown, self-picked produce labeled with contents, date and time processed.

Six points again.

However, homegrown and self-picked produce also abounds in my freezer. So, there!

But I must remove 10 sort-of-labeled, amoeba-shaped packages to find something unexpired for supper. Three points.

Fall Go-Getters: 30. Me: 10-and-a-half.

It’s only October. I’ll make a run between now and Thanksgiving.

Then Hubby peers outside. “Beautiful day. Want to go for a hike?”

Image by Jane Botova from Pixabay.

If I do, I’ll never catch up …

“Sure.”

Light shimmers through oaks’ and maples’ leaves embroidered with scarlet, gold and russet. Crickets and cicadas sing an end-of-summer concert. Cornfields rustle a welcome: “Our Creator throws a great harvest party, doesn’t He!”

I’ve caught up with fall.

This Go-Slower earns nothing, but she’s just been given 100 points.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you caught up with fall?

Classic Post: These James Whitcomb Riley Days

This post first appeared on October 11, 2017.

Photo from Pixabay by Michelle Scott.

My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Baker, read James Whitcomb Riley poems, along with other Hoosier literature, after noon recess every day.

She brought poems and stories to life in a way that made my ears and mind tingle.

However, she enforced “rest time.” We had to lay our heads on our desks while she read, an indignity that smacked of kindergarten naptime. After all, we were nine-year-olds, soon to reach double digits.

We didn’t need any dumb rest time.

Decades later, I realized that after policing a playground resembling a crash derby without cars, then facing a similar classroom scenario, she might need the break.

Not all of Riley’s poems topped my “favorites” list. Braver classmates asked Mrs. Baker to read “Little Orphant Annie.” Why did they like those repeated references to “gobble-uns” that would get us if we didn’t shape up?

I already slept with my knees near my shoulders to avoid giant spiders lurking at the foot of my bed. Adding gobble-uns to my nighttime freak-out list didn’t induce much sleep.

Even more frightening, Little Orphant Annie had to do lots of housework.

The James Whitcomb Riley poem I liked best was “When the Frost Is on the Punkin,” which celebrates autumn in Indiana. That poem tasted good, like tangy cider, and still does:

“But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.”

Steve and I harvesting our homegrown pumpkins.

However, James Whitcomb Riley never would have received an A on a grammar test. He would have been the very first down in a spelling bee.

Mrs. Baker and other teachers deluged us with homework, tests and even demerits to ensure my classmates and I spoke and wrote correctly.

Yet my teacher read us his poems almost daily.

Grown-ups never made sense.

Despite my confusion, James Whitcomb Riley’s magic sang in my head and heart. A Hoosier like me, he wrote about the land and life I knew and loved. He instilled pride into us for who we were — kids in a country school in a county where farmers helped feed a nation and the world.

Photo from Pixabay by Adina Voicu.

His poems still resonate with me, especially on a crisp, fall Indiana morning with a shimmer of silver on my lawn, and gold, russet and scarlet leaves flying in the chilly, sunny breeze. James Whitcomb Riley still reminds me of all I cherish in my native state.

Even if he didn’t know how to spell.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did your childhood teachers read to you? What was your favorite read-aloud story or poem?