Tag Archives: Fall

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?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Why the Christmas Rush?

O Lord, It’s only October, but I can’t buy a can of beans without seeing a Santa Claus. You, who made the sun move backward to preserve daylight during an Old Testament battle — OMG, could you pause on lovely fall …

Image by Lars Nissen from Pixabay.

before we fast-forward to crazy Christmas?

Oh.

You want me to do it?

Image by Klaus Hausmann from Pixabay.

Classic Post: Happy October (I Think)

This post first appeared on October 3, 2018.

If nobody has wished you a Happy October, consider yourself greeted. Also, Happy Sun-Dried Tomatoes Month!

October’s traditional holidays — Columbus Day and Halloween — have come under fire. The Internet graciously supplies us with alternatives so we now can venerate dehydrated fruits? — vegetables? — this month.

Though shouldn’t we celebrate in July, when tomatoes become one in spirit with plump, red humans who also roast and wrinkle in blazing sunshine?

Just sayin’.

October is also Class Reunion Month. Has anybody ever held a class reunion in October?

In a related issue, October offers Be Bald and Free Day.

But wait just one politically correct moment. Does this imply people who are not bald can’t be free? Sorry, but I doubt this will fly as a holiday. Not even with Hallmark.

Neither do I celebrate Reptile Awareness Day (October 21). Are we supposed to kiss a crocodile? Snuggle with snakes? Once, a new home’s owner discovered the former one had bequeathed him a pet python who popped out of heating ducts to say hello.

I lived a half mile away. That’s as close to reptile awareness as I want to get.

I also suggest we remove the bad-mood stigma from my favorite month.

True, our stressed society could benefit from International Moment of Frustration Scream Day, releasing pent-up feelings toward TV political coverage and souped-up leaf blowers. Following up with National Kick Butt Day might, paradoxically, prove a bottomless delight.

But October has gone overboard with Cranky Coworkers Day (the 27th). It has even been chosen as National Sarcastic Awareness Month. Gre-e-eat. We’re supposed to cheer every 16-year-old who rolls her eyes? Maybe crown Miss Supreme Sarcasm?

We also are expected to choose a Menopause Queen to celebrate World Menopause Day today, October 18. Riding a parade float, she and her royal court might throw plates at cowering crowds while a band plays “We’re Having a Heat Wave” and drill teams fan each other with flags.

October used to be a nice, simple month.

I’d hoped November would improve the holiday outlook. But, no. November begins with Plan Your Epitaph Day (November 2). I see that on the 19th, we are to celebrate Have a Bad Day Day.

How about we skip ’em all?

Instead, let’s celebrate Thanksgiving every day!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite way to celebrate October?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Corn Maze Camaraderie

O Lord, getting lost in a 10-acre corn maze, looking for Bigfoot, could be pretty scary — except, OMG, thank You for such excellent company! 

Seasonal Trade-Off

Image by Tikovka1355 from Pixabay.

As a kid, did you ever trade your lunchbox Hostess cupcake for a classmate’s homemade cookies?

Then realized the chocolate chips were sneaky raisins. That your classmate’s mother considered sugar the devil’s invention.

Some of us seem destined for the short straw.

This month, though, we Hoosiers trade summer for autumn.

This flower child will miss petunias’ glorious, subtle fragrance. Hummingbirds and butterflies mooching off zinnias and cosmos. Hubby won’t miss mowing grass, but if the scent could be bottled, I’d buy 10.

If frost must clear out my flowers, fall’s show-off foliage more than makes up for the loss. Especially as I’ll be done with endless watering, weeding and feeding my gardens.

Instead, I’ll be raking, right? Seasonal trade-off.

And I gladly give up a hog farm’s stench on a 95-degree afternoon for fall’s clean crispness.

During summer, we don’t mess with coats or matching gloves. Also, we don’t lose them in three different places. During autumn, though, my old friend, last year’s parka, welcomes me warmly on chilly days.

Foodwise, I already miss sweet corn. I also miss potato salad, made with my mother’s recipe. She kept her signature dish in the same summer-only category as white shoes. I’ll probably do likewise.

During summer, I buy six kinds of fruit. To continue that during cold-weather months, however, requires a second mortgage. Weekly.

Still, who can reject fall’s trade-off? Apple crisp and caramel apples, or pumpkin pie and other yummy pumpkin spice foods? Plus, comfort food abounds.

Other seasonal trade-offs:

  • I’ll miss: nightly cicada concerts and fireflies’ light shows. Welcome: mosquitoes’ demise.
  • I’ll miss: sitting on restaurant patios. Welcome: sitting beside fireplaces.
  • I’ll miss: barbecue fragrances pervading my neighborhood. Welcome: woodsmoke that says, “I’m keeping someone warm.”
  • I’ll miss: our ceiling fan’s breezes at night. Welcome: quilts and flannel jammies.
  • I’ll miss: flip-flop freedom. Welcome: favorite boots.

I will happily exchange:

  • Flab-revealing tops for flannel shirts.
  • Fruit processing at 10:30 p.m. versus consuming it in a cobbler at 10:30 p.m.
  • Multiple daily baths to dispel sweat, bug spray and sunblock for single baths whose effects last more than an hour.

Unfortunately, we’ll trade air-conditioning costs for heating bills.

Still, doesn’t the seasonal trade-off seem fair?

Although good-for-us virtues, like those healthy cookies, lurk during both seasons, summer and fall taste good.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What seasonal exchanges will you make?

End-of-Summer Confusion

Recently, my pastor, instead of dismissing the congregation after the benediction, seated us.

Image by erge from Pixabay.

How could he? Everyone had closed their Bibles and grabbed their purses.

“We have a problem,” Pastor said.

A million-dollar error in our building project? Heresy in the articles of faith? The closing of Cracker Barrel?

He said, “We don’t know when summer’s over.”

For weeks, the church staff has trumpeted program changes in bulletin, website and email. Though Pastor performed the parental equivalent of holding our faces in his hands and articulating new schedules s-l-o-w-l-y, we’ve asked spouses. “Um, what time does church start?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Past decades, summer exited after Labor Day. As for equinoxes — spring never arrived in March, so why bow to September’s equinox for summer’s departure?

Opening school early has shaken our culture. Back-to-school sales start before the previous school year ends. Indiana’s General Assembly passed school-excuse legislation so county fair winners could participate in the state fair.

Once upon a time, children sent to bed during broad daylight assumed they’d committed major sin, or their parents suffered from psychosis. Now, kids consider such craziness normal. Soon, they’ll consider cleaning their rooms as natural as microwaving pizza bites. No wonder everyone worries about this generation.

Image by 1195798 from Pixabay.

This summer’s weather has reinforced bewilderment. Droughts during June fried Midwestern fields and gardens. Unheard-of July rains rescued us and produced bizarre green August lawns.

Early last week, night temperatures fell into the 40s. Before Labor Day, they soared into the 90s.

Should we rev up the air conditioner or the furnace this morning? How about this afternoon? This minute?

Covering all seasonal bases, we snuggle under blankets every night. Turn on air conditioning, start ceiling fans and open windows. No wonder we’re befuddled. We alternate hot chocolate and snow cones.

Besides all this, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf and football blare from screens. Aaaaugh!

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Let’s switch from Daylight Savings Time now, instead of November — absorb maximum confusion like a sucker punch and be done with it!

Or next year, we could once again mark Labor Day as summer’s end. But 100-degree heat waves might bake us for two more months.

We’d be more confused than ever.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you handle summer’s supposed end?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Wow, Lord. Just Wow!

Father, thank You for interior decorators, for those who beautify so many inside spaces for us. But, OMG, how thankful I am that You are the Master Exterior Decorator — and You do it all for free!

Lake Ogle, Brown County State Park in Indiana.