Buffeted by the wind…

Capturing this autumn’s beauty has been a small challenge, because this year half the leaves fell in a very wild thunderstorm, and since then we’ve been mired under grey, sodden skies and I’m trying to give you a taste of autumn in Kentucky and at our home in very southern Ohio. As autumn 2020 progresses, does it sometimes feel like the world is a bit out of control? The UK went into another lockdown, which made me feel very sad for them, and I think we’re all preparing for the unknown, though this time we’ve stockpiled toilet paper and hand sanitizer, right?

A rare sunny day…

On this side of the pond, many are looking forward to next spring and summer. I took a stroll around my neighborhood before trick or treating started, and I chatted with a neighbor whose daughter is getting married in a vineyard next year. My own daughter is marrying next summer, and it fills us with happiness. Looking forward to an event is different now. Before we had tickets to see plays at two theaters downtown, and dinners with friends. We had planned on hosting several dinners at our new home to make them feel welcome and loved, but most of the visiting, the weddings, baby showers or even going to church just stopped.

A wee little pumpkin to watch over my lavender plants.

How do we handle Thanksgiving this year? Should a big family gathering be tucked away until next year? Do we make certain our elderly parents or grandparents stay safely away, or is it wrong to drain their calendars of these pleasures? I think we’re all glancing at the calendar toward Christmas and thinking of how to enjoy the festive season safely. I told my husband that I only wanted to put up three trees this year (I honestly normally have six or seven fully decorated trees, with one being a real Fraser fir.) A subdued season seems in order for us. What about you?

Willie enjoying the warmth of the sun, so slanted by late October.

How do we grab slices of happiness and find the beauty in these days of troubling news? Election fears. The pandemic causing so many businesses to close forever, and when will this end? Missing meeting up with our family and friends, both close by and far away. Vacation plans shuttled away until 2021, where we hope life with be normal and raucous, full of fun and joy and freedom. Until then though we do have choices. We almost always have the choice of looking at our situation in the best light possible. How so?

My neighborhood. That sky was made to be admired, and I did. All the way home.

Starting when you wake up, take a moment to stretch and think about what your day holds, and if it’s mainly work, try to fit in some time to get outside. Fresh air, even in misty, rainy, drizzly nights is worth it. Head out for even ten minutes and find something beautiful to gaze at. Even when that thunderstorm we had ripped half the beautiful hued leaves from their tenuous hold on their branches, I opened the door to the back porch just to hear the rain lashing the trees, and hear thunder rolling eastward.

Coffee in my new autumn themed mug makes me smile, no matter the hour.

If we’re forced to be indoors again more than we like, books and films are lovely companions. Are you lucky enough to have a piano or guitar in your place? Maybe it’s time to teach yourself how to be musical. Yes, I see the images of the celebrities who have chosen drastic weight loss or new plastic surgery during this pandemic, but what fun is not eating when we have the time to knead bread dough, slowly, almost sensuously by hand, and then not eat a slice slathered in butter? We don’t need an exercise in punishment or too much denial. We need to enjoy the ebb and flow of our days as they come to us.

For one fine hour, this orange tree shared her beauty with the sunset after a weekend of grey skies filled with rain.

We need to summon the patience we all have inside us, so when se do interact with the world, we can be kind and pleasant. My husband and I decided to hand out full size candy to whoever wanted some treats last night, and we brought down some whiskey and tumblers with us. Adult treats were needed to fortify ourselves against the chill. We offered a wee dram of whiskey to the parents taking their kids out, and we met so many of our neighbors in the back of the subdivision.

They laughed at the surprise treat, and called out “Cheers!” to us as we all took large sips together. The kids were plenty busy choosing the perfect candy bar, and suddenly trick or treat had turned into a meet and greet. I saw friends from at least a mile away, and we caught up as the full moon rose up behind the bare arms of the trees in my yard. We were socially distanced, used plastic cups for the neighbors and even in 2020, we decided to make a night of fun.

Well, look. I did have a candy bar with my scotch! Caught me.
On an old table I found for a future project, we started to set up our treats. No tricks allowed.

I took a walk through the streets before the trick or treating began, and while some streets had fire pits full of wood, just ready to be lit at 6:00, with chairs and tables and candy at the ready, I was actually shocked at the number of older folks (meaning my age) who closed up their homes and turned out the lights. Just a few years ago they welcomed the kids, because their own children were begging for candy, but it made me sad to see them turn into “those” old people, who were willing to spread fun and happiness just for a time that suited them.

Why not be those older folks who make the world more joyous? Just set out a bowl of candy. The kids know what to do. Are my neighbors too poor for this? Don’t make me laugh. On my old street we’d all sit on our porches and yell out to one another, and on the warm years, we would visit and watch for the kids making their way down our street. This is what I mean by spreading happiness. It makes us feel good. Yeah, maybe it’s easier to curl up with Ben and Jerry’s (again) and watch Halloween (again), rather than wearing masks (for Covid 19 this time), sitting far from the proffered candy bars, and washing hands when it was time to head back inside, but where’s the beauty in hiding away? Turn on a light and fill a bowl with beautiful, yummy treats!

Enjoying the sent of a new candle on a chilly evening.

When I write about spreading warmth, I’m saying let’s make Thanksgiving about so much more than stuffing ourselves into a coma. Let’s tell our family or our dog what we are thankful for this year. Let’s not be so scared of the pandemic, and I understand since I have a compromised immune system, but let’s grab the rest of 2020 and make it good. Make your Christmas beautiful. Knit, bake, sing carols and enjoy the quiet this year offers us. We can have a Black Friday showdown and shove others out of our way next year. (Kidding. I don’t go near a store on Black Friday. Never!)

Dreaming of our scheduled trip to Scotland in front of a warm fire.

This year is holding our her hands, hoping you’ll find some beauty in the changes. Let’s enjoy this. Even the small things like the scent of a burning candle. A child’s delight at getting candy for free! Being thankful for food on our tables, and sending food to the pantries where others will make a Thanksgiving dinner from what we share. Let’s be lavish. On them. Makes you feel warm inside, doesn’t it? Maybe 2020 is teaching us some beautiful lessons after all.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

Of sunshine and laughter…

Summer still lingers, even though I spied the first mums at the grocery store yesterday, and some faux pumpkins too. I enjoy summer’s long days, where the angle of sunshine reaches out to places usually hidden in shadows, but I have to admit I fully embrace autumn. It wasn’t always this way. I lived life loving half the year, and spent the next six months is a purgatory of sorts, where I waited for spring. Everyday brought an extra minute or two of sunlight, and a return to living my best life, though I loved the occasional March thaw.

Most of my life I lived in the North, as in Upstate NY, land of snowy days starting in October and running until March. Did I mention the grey days that accompanied those snows? Then I lived in Wisconsin for twenty-two years, and yes I counted. Cold. Bitter, freezing cold to the point where I watched in shock as frost climbed the walls in my bedroom, and later in my own home, spreading across the back door and hallway. That’s cold. I counted the days until spring, and then I opened windows and slipped on my shorts when it hit sixty degrees. But then we moved. Seven hours south of north.

Cows at the farm next door…

That made all the difference. We still have all four seasons, but summer lingers until the end of September, when I’m ready for evenings where the chill curls around my legs, and adding a blanket on the bed feels good, even if I do keep the windows open. Then bring it on! Mums, pumpkins, and nights spent on the back porch listening to the creek talk to itself. The owls hoot in the evening, and I start to bring out throws for nights spent on the deck, watching the Harvest Moon sail high in the sky. Did you know the Harvest Moon is in September? October’s full moon is called the Hunter’s Moon. Interesting….

My copper comes out in autumn. It pairs with autumn colors so well…

I fell in love with autumn one day when dusting my parents’ room. I looked out the back window and saw the forest bordering our yard drenched in crimson, yellow, bright orange and burnt umber punctuated by the evergreens. I don’t know how long I watched the sunlight spotlighting the trees, and as soon as my Saturday chores were over, I ran outside and marveled at the lightening blues in the sky. Who knew the sky changed colors with the seasons? I had no idea until I turned nine. When did the world around you become noticeable, a presence who showed herself on some days, when others were shrouded in weeping, sodden clouds. Did you notice? Do you? Now?

The tombstones from over 100 years ago, on our land…

Yes, I’m lucky. I moved to a more temperate home. But I learned so much from being in the north. Things that might warm you through even if you’re basking in oceanside breezes come January. The people in the north are friendly, once you get to know them. You’ll be invited to soak in their hot tub, as I was, drinking wine on a frigid night, with the only issue trying to get home soaking wet and hoping to not turn into an icicle. Yeah, I didn’t properly think that one through, and she lived 400 yards away from me. Northerners get things done. It doesn’t matter the temp or if the sun sets close to 4:00, so you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, and then if you’re lucky, you take a chilling 5K run…in the dark. We just do it.

the house last year….

They embrace cold, snow and laugh easily. I once attended a Green Bay Packers playoff game in January at Lambeau and froze. The people all around us laughed and cracked jokes, even though out team was losing to the Giants! They offered me hand warmers, but even I had to laugh when I told them I had hand warmers in my boot, mittens, and across my back. I still shivered. But I loved that even through a disappointing loss, the fans weren’t cussing, throwing beer or yelling awful things about the referee’s parentage. Being kind is a whole thing in the frozen tundra. I do miss the warmth of friendship carrying us through the cold and dark.

an impromptu country bouquet gathered in late summer….

Finding happiness where we are is essential. We have to make out peace with our place. I am thrilled to be where we are now, and yes, people are friendly here, but the summer days can be so hot that it seems like people spend their summer hidden inside. We learn how to enjoy the water, take walks in the cooler shade and these days we don’t have as much to distract us, so I think a whole world is rediscovering the pleasures of home. We can garden, even in a city. We can step outside and drink to the end of the day and a beautiful evening. We have the power over how we think.

Mostly. Sometimes medicine is needed. But if we’re doing fairly well, we can enjoy every drop of summer fun, listening to the cicadas and crickets. I love to light candles any night of the year, and I’m loving the fresh and citrus scents. Have you had a fish taco yet? Drank scotch neat? Binge watched a show with a lover, friend or cat? Had popcorn for dinner, heavy on the butter? Dipped your toes into a pond, ocean or creek? You know we have a creek here! Swoon. That’s my waterfront property. And I laugh with my husband, because the life by an ocean is out of reach now. And that’s a good thing.

the woods are lovely any time of year…

I loved, loved the ocean so much. I could go out in the waves and play in the turbulent waters of the Outer Banks, riptides and all. I took my kids to the pool every day each summer, and then I found out I had lupus. No big deal, right? Well, I wound up being severely affected by the sun. Sunlight makes me sick. So I’m enjoying autumn a lot more. Summer isn’t the best season for me, so I read a lot and emerge in the evenings. And nights! I’m all about loving the night. I could stay up until dawn. Seriously.

taken from high up in a tree on our farm….

That joke about having a creek as mine is funny and perfect! I made my peace with my new reality. Now I love the ponds at the farm and we have a creek there too. One that the neighbor’s cows love to cross to get to our fields. My doctor told me to embrace vacationing up north in the lands of my youth. Maine, Vermont, and the Adirondacks. And Scotland! My dream come true. Oh pandemic go away! We all want to move about the globe freely.

An August sunset is savored….

I want you to feel happy. I’m not thrilled about being stuck inside over summer, but that’s my reality. I’ve made my peace with it, and the north would be a good place for me, but my family is here now. It’s okay. Can you make peace with your reality? Can we find a way to enjoy where we are, whatever season it is, city or country, a pandemic or not, rich or poor, sick or well (you know where I land on this one), alone or with family, moving forward or staying still? I think we can. Quick! Make your list of things to do before summer slips silently away.

And then? Decide to make the most of the autumn. You might find it’s your new favorite season. It’s mine. And I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve been yearning to burn a raked pile of fallen leaves for decades. I know, it’s bad, so I won’t. Plus I have images of starting a huge fire, so I found a new….candle, yes, you know me by now, I love candles, and this promises to smell like a leaf pile burning. Enjoy the rest of August. Wherever you are.

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

Until next time,

Deanna