October Oddities…

We’ve been in a state of suspended summer long into the autumn season. While the days aren’t as hot, the nights bring humidity without many cooling breaths of fresh fall air. The trees grow restless, as they sense the sun spending fewer hours in the sky; but confusedly they reach out to the fooling warmth that hasn’t given way to the whims of a new season. I heard the rasp of the leaves as they dry, and I’m waiting for them to give assent to change from a dull dark green into yellow, orange, russet, red and vermillion.

Tonight I decided to take a walk close to home, because rain is expected. When I started out the sounds of summer filled the evening, with the tree frogs and crickets singing lustily. If I didn’t see the dry, dusty leaves that have fallen in surrender to the ground, I would have thought it was an August night. Lightning flashed to the south, and I silently lifted a prayer that we would be beneficiaries of a good thunderstorm.

I love little pumpkins. They’re cute and look great with blue.

I love storms. I love my new home, but I can’t see northwest where most of the weather begins here; so I walked and watched the sky. Thunder made menacing noises in the distance, but I forgot about that when I came up on six deer. Our neighborhood deer are quite tame, and I made sure to stay on the other side of the road while they watched me pass. These are the same deer who think I have mums in planters on my front steps just for their snacking pleasure.

Tonight they stood in someone else’s yard and munched on their flowers, but I didn’t want to shoo them away. After I passed them I turned a corner and the breeze blew gusts from the east. It smelled like rain, and as the wind blew my hair back I remembered many nights spent walking in other times and places. A rain scented breeze in the warm night made me think of nights walking with the first boy I really liked. Then it switched to other times spent laughing and sharing secrets with my best friend, to college days and time spent walking home from the library thinking about a cute guy I really liked.

The cabin.

That guy was in our home sleeping while I took a midnight stroll. Stealing away while the neighbors were all settled down for the night or falling asleep or making lunches for tomorrow felt like a guilty pleasure. My own children live elsewhere, so I’m free to choose my hours; and I want to enjoy the mornings, but night has held an allure for me my whole life. I’m almost resigned to joining those brave night owls who come alive in the afternoon and while away the hours after midnight content and pleased.

Candlelight on the back porch.

Tomorrow is supposed to bring us plenty of rain, but a warm front is coming through. I idly wonder if I’ll find a sunny day on which to take photos of the fields and forests while they cloak themselves in their true hues. Until then I’ll burn my autumn candles, and I found the most decadent garland for the family room mantle. The colors are muted, but then that’s what this season brings us most of the time.

When I lived in New York and Wisconsin it seemed like all the trees turned at the same time. Everywhere I looked I saw red and orange leaves lit from within with a golden light. I’ve never seen anything like the parade of trees standing sentinel where they were planted almost a hundred years ago, and for a suspenseful two weeks those trees felt magical; from a story of places and times long past. The magic was never lost on me. I miss those two glorious weeks.

A gorgeous new garland for the mantle.

Here in a transitional zone we have two autumns. One is in October where certain bushes and trees decide to change colors and fall to the ground, while others stay green long into November. This patchy autumn is accepted, but I hope to convince my husband to head up to Vermont one October. He’s busy this time of year getting the farm and cabin ready for all the hunters who will converge on our land next month, so I won’t spirit him away this year. Besides, I’m spending a week at the cabin to finally finish the edits on my first book. It’s time. Book number two is firmly in my mind.

I have a strange bucket list. I don’t want to travel the world, though when I go overseas I’m so pleased to be there. No, I want to rake the crispy, dead leaves into a huge pile and try burning it like they did so long ago. It’s foolishness, I know. I want to take wild walks in cemeteries with my husband the way we did before kids were a part of our lives. I’m going to carve one pumpkin and roast the seeds, while I listen to rock and country music and sing along.

This feels too long for a story. Maybe next time.

I’m ready for the full moon of this month. The nights begin earlier every evening, and I crave comfort food. Football is back, and I’m so used to it that I turn on Monday Night football just for the nostalgic sounds of my childhood.

Roses are always a good idea.

I write and read and remember colder days under sullen grey skies. Pulling my red wagon back to my house, where mom cooked chili; and the steamy kitchen needed an open window. That was the first time I realized I didn’t like grey days. Dad watched yet another football game, and even if I could change the channel we only had two others to choose from. Was I going to watch a bad western movie? Hardly.

Upstate New York required embracing the snow, but a grey sky on a lonely Sunday? I felt it, and watched my spirit rise as I entered my home with my mom and dad and siblings. Outside might have felt cold and windy with my friends tucked into their snug homes, but I learned how to embrace where I lived. Yes, I like being south more, but I need the seasons. Being in northern Kentucky or very southern Ohio gives us seasons, though we do have weeks where the sun hides behind dark, sodden clouds. But each season brings many gifts, and we find them if we dare to look.

Wherever you are I hope you can walk under trees and watch them. Listen for the acorns that drop from oak trees. Watch the squirrels hide them away, while deer greedily stake their claim over those tasty nuts. (At least they’re not chomping away at my mums.) Go on a hayride at a local pumpkin patch. Grab your family and be scared at a haunted corn maze. Drink some fresh apple cider. While you’re at it grab a caramel apple, too. Stay home on Halloween and hand out candy to the kids. Have fun looking at all their costumes. We hand out candy and whisky (adults only), and I’m hoping for a nice night where neighbors all sit outside and call to one another.

Seasoned wood ready for the fires of winter.

While I wait for autumn to resume, I’ll be going to another pumpkin farm. I suppose I’ll give in and buy some pumpkins for the deer. I leave them in the yard by the trees, and they love to crunch on fresh pumpkin. Maybe my mums will be safer that way. All I know is I’m looking forward to cold mornings where the frost nearly touches my toes, and afternoons that are full of golden sunshine that warms me through. At dinner it’s time to wrap a sweater around my shoulders, as the evening gives way to night. I think I’m ready for the change to happen. Are you?

Let’s grab every moment autumn offers. Find a way to be outside. Go to a park, nature preserve, your yard, or a woods near you. Even driving brings us new places to walk and admire. Happiness hides in the corners. We just have to find it for ourselves. Grab onto a prefect autumn day. Maybe call off work, and look up. These trees have to change colors sometime, so why not make a day of it? Press the most beautiful leaves in a book to look at in winter. Chase autumn. Have fun.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time,
Deanna Eppers

Simplicity and tough days…

Normally, I write about lovely pursuits, but I’m going to be very real today. I think it will help me, and I hope it helps you as we head into Thanksgiving week. I’ll still write about some lovely little things as they come to mind, and that’s what this is all about: being grateful even when life is tough. I do know Thanksgiving looks different this week, and I’ve spent the whole week in discussions with my adult kids about how we’re going to “do” Thanksgiving. Safely.

The last of the leaves, finally succumbing to the chill of late November.

While I’ve enjoyed the somewhat slower pace of my days, a lot is going on. I’ll explain. Yes, this pandemic isn’t getting any better. Meanwhile, I have a daughter about ready to give birth to her second child, and we’re deep into planning a wedding for early next summer while also setting final plans in place to take that trip to Scotland with a dear friend who is fighting cancer. In spite of the crazy year, I still believe in the inherent beauty of life.

Our days are measured out for us, and we don’t know how much time we have here. I think if we did, our days would look very different, me included. Every evening, I go on the back porch and listen to that little waterfall talk to itself, and I marvel at the long twilight we see in winter. Did you notice that, too? I feel sorry for the crickets who missed out on the summer party, only to arrive weeks late and in time for a killing freeze. Thanksgiving sits on our doorstep. So what are your plans?

Candles and books make a day brighter…

Every year since my father-in-law died, I have hosted Thanksgiving. Twenty-three years now. Due to the virus hitting people all around us, we have decided to keep our number at the table small, and I’ve spent all month contemplating buying a pre-made Thanksgiving courtesy of a local restaurant, or do I roast the turkey, mash some potatoes and call it as feast? I’m willing to make everything I usually do, though I am cutting out the stuffing. I might bake just one pie rather than the usual two. My family back east are having small dinners too, and we’re zooming afterward. It feels nice knowing we’re all eating at the same time. Almost like being together.

Bright, bold flowers were fun to play with today.

So many of us are having an unusual week, and I wonder at all the homes with Christmas trees lit and sparkling, and the Christmas lights are outside too. Half of me wants to dive into Christmas mode, but I realized tonight that I never switch to Christmas until Thanksgiving is done. No one in my family wants to enjoy a November holiday next to the tree, or so they tell me. So I wait, admiring those brave souls who’ve decided to lighten up a darkened world a week or two early. I’ll be joining them on Friday.

Treasuring the days where the door can still be open. Lucky me.

Simplifying sounds appealing to me. I usually decorate my house with six full Christmas trees, but not this year. I’ll buy a fresh tree for that glorious scent of pine and maybe a flocked one, dripping with faux snow. I usually arrive at Christmas Day exhausted, and I’m done with that. I want the time to read books for fun in December, so I’m taking a step back from what I’ve done for years. My Christmas is looking quieter. Calmer. What I wouldn’t give for a slice of peace in my world. Are you feeling the same way? Yeah. We’re all tired.

Even my usual autumn decorating is minimal. I like that.

Even though I’m not holding court in Starbucks as I usually do, it was so pleasant meeting friends outside, sitting apart, but enjoying the milder autumn days. Now that the windows are closing, in both senses of that word, I want a warm fire, a cup of scalding hot coffee and a pile of books at my feet. Maybe it’s a good thing that Black Friday began a month ago. No rushing through a dinner, that used to be savored later in the day, followed by pieces of pie that we couldn’t possibly manage to eat, yet we did. And so we will this year. We have our Thanksgiving back! Small things matter.

The last breath of autumn.

Wherever you are this week, can you find some time alone to think? Time to dwell on what you’ve learned about yourself in this year in particular? We’ve had to change so much, and yet it’s the simple things that make this crazy year okay. People choosing to be kind and patient, smiling even if no one can tell because of the mask. Asking others if they’re okay and waiting for the answer. Singing “Happy Birthday” over a zoom call like we did with my sister this past week.

Just a long last look at autumn.

I’m full of gratitude for lessons learned. How to hold back on airing my opinion. Realizing we’re hungry for words from other souls sitting close to us, more than we ever could be for food. Staying off the Instagram pages of those whose lives look perfect, especially now. Not comparing. Accepting boundaries and making my own. Deciding on spending time with my daughter, rather than curling up for a whole day with a book. Even if I’m tired. Making others feel loved and valuable. Reaching out over some texts to someone who is alone. Giving.

Think how a few kind words can change someone’s day, and then change it!

There’s so much to be thankful for this year. Enjoy these last days of autumn. Savor them with a fine wine or warm coffee. Light your candles and have a fire. Be warm. Be happy. Choose happiness.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time,

Deanna

Leaves falling in the night…

Autumn has been sending down little showers of withered leaves this autumn, because it’s been so dry. I wondered if I see any red, gold or orange trees lit from within, showing their true colors, and I did. Last evening before the cold front blew through, I did step out to take some pics of the colors, and then while watching The Haunting of Bly Manor, lightning and thunder arrived for a properly spooky experience, and then the wind howled. I didn’t know it, but my beautiful leaves were shaken loose in the storm.

The leaves as seen from my back yard last evening…

I woke up early, for me, and had to run around almost all day. I decided due to the sunshine, I would head out and find a gorgeous row of orange glowing trees and snap some pics, but I called a friend and told her I couldn’t find any. She said she had been thinking of me yesterday since she had been north and the fall colors amazed her. The only problem was they had all been torn away in the windy storm last night. All my beautiful leaves were gone!

Some changing leaves by the new fire pit…

I asked my friend what was I going to do, and she laughed and said to look at all the leaves on the ground! She meant it, but all I noticed as I walked on the trail were brown curled-up dead leaves. Still damp from the deluge, but the color had changed and they looked sad and bereft. We decided that in another week or two, the next bunch of trees would change colors, and hopefully I would get a a chance to go out and enjoy the fiery hues, before another wild storm decided to blow in. Since the weather has been interesting, I’m going to make a point of finding a lovely colorful road, and the next sunny day I’m going to head out there and feast on autumn.

On the bike trail today, sunny, and see the leaves to the side? Yeah, me too!

I decided in the middle of running around to stop at the bike trail, which is a misnomer, since walkers, runners and bikers all share this trail. It wasn’t too crowded, though for a Tuesday at 4:00, I thought the trail had plenty of people enjoying the afternoon warmth. October is a surprise gift, with some days soaring into the 80’s and other days feeling cold and damp. We all know a beautiful day when it’s here, and we emerge, soaking up the sunlight, and enjoying the cicadas and crickets who haven’t felt the sting of a frost just yet. It’s coming, we all know that, but I love their summer songs so much, that I’ll enjoy their music for as long as they’re around.

A warm fire at the farm this past weekend…

I drift through October mainly content to spend time inside, but this year I’ve been out more often than usual. We decided to have a fire outside at the cabin, and while I savored a bit of scotch, we all chose our brand of brew and told stories in the dark. Funny ones. And because my son-in-law went to high school with our daughter, we plied him with questions about the kids in his year and what he thought of the ones we knew. We laughed about embarrassing parents, and I told them one day their son would feel just like that. Thankfully, we laughed about that day being far off.

These days their son has taken to my husband, and he even says his name, though it sounds like Bup Bup. I don’t have a name, really, though I think the way grandpa and grandson have bonded is a sweet thing. They both love John Deere tractor rides, and that’s something this Grandma doesn’t do. I read and sing to him, and my daughter takes him out for runs, so maybe liking his Bup Bup and being tossed skyward for a few seconds before my husband’s strong hands catch him again is just what this boy needs. Time enough for grandmas and their chocolate chip cookies later.

My keys with my gym card, and souvenirs from Charleston, SC, London and Paris…all favorite places.

I realize I didn’t tell you a story. So I’ll make this quick. See those car keys? I have my gym card in hand, and thought it was funny, since it’s been years since I stepped in there. But I have the card, because maybe I will walk on that treadmill, but on a day like today, walking inside is a shame. Being outdoors, outside, even with all the leaves tossed to the ground, was a blessing. I held Paris and London in my hand. I take them with me to remind me that the world is small, and going to both places was a gift. How so? I’ll tell you.

I found orange leaves and had to show you…and that blue, blue sky…

My first trip to London came with a week in Paris too. My parents wanted to take my fifteen year old son on a trip to those cities, and well, there was room for me if I would pay for my airfare. Would I!? They said I was the only one of their kids who had not been to Europe, so it was my turn, and my husband was happy for me. I hung out with my mom and dad, and my son and I shared times that we both remember to this day. He still talks about our first evening in Paris, where we walked in search of our dinner, and found it at a small outdoor cafe. Amazing food, and a beautiful night. London was fun, and I have been there since.

My sweet Willie Nelson on the back porch today…

The next time I landed in London was with my husband. One week running around London and then a blissful week in Munich. We ate fish and chips at many pubs. What can I say, except we love that kind of dinner, and yes to the mushy peas. But a full English breakfast is too much for me. My husband said it was divine, but I’ll take coffee with cream and wait for lunch. I laugh because I didn’t use the right converter for my curling iron, and it fried right up, so I begged my husband to go out and buy me one. I wondered if he had found a pub and decided to stay there for three hours. Turns out the English say, curling tongs. Turns out, the language barrier exists even for English people speaking English in Britain!

My back porch, in the autumn light. And with the pandemic, our visitors tend to hang out in this space. Coffee with my neighbors tomorrow. Right here…

I loved going to those cities with my husband. I’m happy to tramp around any place on earth with him, and hopefully Scotland will be a go next spring. We had fun in both cities, and wherever we go together we laugh. Walking through Westminster is always sobering. All those famous historic people buried under the stones on which we stepped made us thoughtful. And then to wander into a pub, ordering a gin and tonic, in the city known for its gin was an afternoon delight. He found some excellent bourbons that cannot be found in the States. Wonder what we’re going to search for in Scotland when it gets too warm? I’ll let you guess.

I’m happy here at home with him too, puttering around today, sweeping up the errant leaves that blew into my porch. He took care of climbing into the attic, checking for mice. Then we settled in for more of watching Bly Manor. We have a tradition of watching mysteries and scary stuff in October. I think traditions are a good thing. November will bring its own kind of traditions, but for now, let’s focus on October. On today.

I hope your trees still have gorgeous bold yellow, orange and crimson red leaves hanging in there. Slowly falling to the ground. Enjoy them. Eat a caramel apple too. And pick out a fat pumpkin for later this month.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold….

Until next time,

Deanna