O Lord, You know that as a tall middle-schooler, I sneaked Mom’s coffee, trying to stunt my growth. Gag! It tasted awful! Yet decades later, a steaming mug of coffee blesses my day. OMG, maybe Your gifts to us are often an acquired taste?
“You initiated an end-of-the-season campout,” my husband insisted. “To celebrate your completing a novel.”
Crazy. I would never—
Wait. After months in the writers’ cave, I do recall blurting something about an October campout.
Exactly what a weary writer needed — extra laundry. Debates whether to pack heavy coats or light. How could I jam this carrot bag into the cooler? (Though the cheesecake fit fine.)
All for a campout in October, when Mother Nature frequently forgets to take her Prozac.
What word-fogged madness had seized me?
Hubby should have conducted an intervention: “Let’s go to a ritzy hotel where they golf cart you to the hot tub.”
Instead, he gleefully hooked up the camper and condemned me to a weekend in the wilds.
The campground teemed with campers struck with similar insanity, determined to experience one final outdoor inconvenience. Perhaps they’d all written books, too, and succumbed to brain disappearance?
Adults, as well as kids, competed in a never-ending, kamikaze bike race around the campground. For pedestrians on hasty nighttime hikes to restrooms, a headless horseman could strike no terror so profound as that caused by breakneck night riders with glow-in-the-dark decals.
Better to stay by the campfire, especially as temperatures dipped to 39 degrees.
Fall camping does have positives. With no devices or cell phone service, we retired early. Once my foggy mind realized a nighttime noise wasn’t a hair dryer left on, but the camper’s heater, we spent snuggly nights in sleeping bags.
Mornings, we consumed yummy breakfasts with enough cholesterol to supply the state.
No global warming occurred, so we couldn’t swim or kayak. We left bike rides to the kamikaze crazies. But we could hike.
We strolled through gorgeous woods, stopping to admire lakes, trees, and tough little flowers that braved autumn’s temperatures. Unable to translate bird language, we assumed a fervent chorus of welcome. Along with soaring hawks and eagles, even buzzards appeared graceful. We encountered a beaver lodge and a gobbling flock of wild turkeys.
Why, on these jaunts, do we persist in seeking deer? I’ve seen them in neighbors’ yards. Deer devour my tulips and tomatoes, yet we found this park quest entertaining — also part of the insanity.
If hikes cause rubber legs and aching feet, they also inspire the best naps ever taken by humankind.
We found ourselves lingering that last, lovely afternoon, breaking down camp at the last minute.
Arriving at home, we hauled in suitcases. Bags of smoky, dirty clothes. The cooler, with its highly questionable contents.
We recovered our Internet. Tons of emails awaited us. Tons of work.
What madness possessed us to come home?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like fall campouts?
O Lord, You know that for millennia, singers and writers have celebrated Your moon’s romantic beauty. Others, though, likened it to cheese, croissants, and cookies. 1950s singer Dean Martin even viewed the moon as a “big pizza pie.” OMG, it’s difficult for a dieter to stay starry-eyed when her stomach’s growling. …
Nobody feels neutral about autumn’s advent. Mention fall, and you trigger one of two reactions:
“No-o-o-o-o (weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth)!”
Or, “Ye-e-s-s-s (double fist pump)!”
The first response typifies skinny beach bums and bunnies who evolved without sweat glands. They play tennis on boiling blacktop and Frisbee on 500-degree sand. My scientific theory: summer people originally lived on the sun, but inexplicably migrated to the Midwest a million years ago. They’ve complained about fall ever since.
Perhaps you’ve deduced that I support the second view? Below, I’ve listed my Top 10 reasons for loving the harvest season:
Steve – At a Labor Day picnic 67 years ago, my husband’s 20-year-old mother wondered if the holiday would prove prophetic — she thought she was going into labor. However, the excitement was traced to a mole digging holes under her blanket. Hubby, who still takes his good old sweet time, appeared two weeks later. I’m glad he did.
Layers – No more bathing suits! Hurrah!
Cozy reading – Sure, beach books introduce us to new imaginary friends and take us to faraway places. But during fall, I can roll up in a throw like a giant burrito and read with equal enjoyment — with no sand in my pants.
Apple everything – Orchard apples taste as if they grew in fruit heaven. They bless us with bubbling apple pie, chunky homemade applesauce and hot, cinnamon-y cider. Mmm.
Comfort food – During summer, Congress should declare cooking illegal. But fall brings urges to fill the house with delicious fragrances: chili and cornbread on cold Saturday nights. Chicken and noodles for Sunday dinner. Golden loaves of bread that smell like love as they bake. Even hot coffee tastes better during fall. (I never could embrace iced coffee. Some things are just wrong.)
Squirrels – I like to watch them work. I like to watch anybody work but me.
Sports – I like to watch football and playoff baseball. I like to watch anybody exercise but me.
Weather – A fall day’s air smells fresh as if God just invented it. Often, autumn brings the only true-blue blue skies we see in Indiana. Even the most addicted summer junkie can’t deny that fall offers great snuggle weather.
Nature – Trees, clad in their best fall-rainbow finery, leave me breathless. Other scene-stealers: morning glories swathe fences with royal blue and ruby blossoms. Chrysanthemums bloom in jewel colors. Cornstalks rustle with gentle gossip about weather changes. Orange pumpkins like harvest moons nestle among brown vines. Ugly brown milkweed pods erupt with white, airy adventures.
Besides all this, we don’t have to weed or mow the grass this weekend.
What’s not to love?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What is one of your Top 10 reasons for loving the harvest season?
O my God, Thank You for neighbors’ big trees. Though I don’t own them, I have borrowed their beauty every day. And OMG, thank You for the way they inspire my baby trees. The little guys want to grow up to be just like them!
Oh, my God, thank You for this final bouquet from our garden, rescued before temperatures plunged 40 degrees. And OMG, thank You for last fall’s Hobby Lobby clearance sales, providing this bouquet to greet the new season.
Is there anything more fun than sneaking a walk when you should be hard at work?
Perhaps balancing the national budget, achieving world peace and losing four dress sizes rank above it. None of these, however, appear imminent. So I pilfer little thrills, like kernels of candy corn, when I can.
Autumn’s tawny, sun-freckled face grins from every yard and field, a mischievous TP-er who messes with trees so we have to clean up many-hued clutter. Scraggly flowers, survivors with colorful personalities, mix well with show-off mums. Ragged, brown corn and soybeans look weathered and friendly as smiling scarecrows that guard small-town yards and grocery store produce sections.
Al mellow and unhurried. Autumn urges me to enjoy its relaxed aura while I can.
Apple trees, however, awaken my laid-back senses. Loaded with plump fruit, they tempt me to borrow just a few.
However, calling my husband to spring me from jail isn’t the best way to celebrate fall. Forcing my steps past, I promise myself a trip to an orchard.
Squirrels, sociopathic larcenists, don’t worry about raising bail. They freely steal fruit, walnuts and acorns, which they hide in my flower pots—their personal storage units. Fall squirrels are like spring dandelions, fluffy and cute. I love both … in other people’s yards.
All paths lead to the elementary school, easily evidenced by a trail of kid stuff: a flattened baseball hat; a pink bicycle abandoned near a stop sign; a plain strawberry Pop-Tart®, no doubt rejected because someone wanted frosted chocolate with sprinkles. Scholarly endeavors are verified by broken pencils and crinkled homework. How long has this rain-faded permission slip lain here?
Rows of cars at the school speak of the commitment of teachers, administrators and staff. I pray for them, as the place — even when recess is not in session — emits energy unmatched by Hoover Dam turbines.
Ditto for Taylor University. A substantial portion of its science building’s energy needs are supplied by geothermal, solar and wind power. However, the pulsating between-class rhythm of skateboarders, scooter-riders, cyclists and joggers who don’t even notice they’re jogging prompts another energy question: Couldn’t the remainder be supplied by students, who regard midnight as the start of prime time?
I seek quieter streets, where I can saunter, unmolested by the vigorous and motivated.
Instead, yards teem with home improvement projects, and on the town’s outskirts, farmers driving giant combines lumber into fields, braving clouds of chaff. All strive to complete their tasks before cold weather.
In the face of so much diligence, goofing off is downright tough. I head for home.
But that doesn’t mean autumn and I won’t try to play hooky tomorrow. …
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite goof-off season, and why?