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

Unfettered…

The long days linger well into the evening now, and now that I’ve been in this house for two years I’m noticing smaller things that I didn’t have time for last year. We have to dwell in one place for a while before it feels like home. I certainly wondered how my son was going to sleep with the bullfrogs who decided to hold a convention in the hidden pond just down the hill from our front door, and I spent hours listening to the creek down another hill in the back. What I missed, because I was in a new place, was the feeling of dwelling among the trees.

I’m not a ranch person, meaning the one level homes so many people enjoy. I love two story homes, and my dream a long time ago was to have a third level magically looking out upon the world. My old house had the most magical maple tree in the back yard that filled our two story room. That tree imbued the room with green hues all summer long, and when brisk October swept into our lives that tree made the room a buttery pumpkin orange. My bedroom looked out upon trees on either side, and I felt happiest on warm evenings when the breeze blew through the room. It reminded me of my childhood days happily reading while the sun swung high in the sky, with a light breeze puckering at the white eyelet curtains my mother had made for me.

That’s not to say my childhood was spent only reading. I spent hours outdoors climbing trees too high, only to discover I had to act brave in front of my brother and his friends and climb down as one not worried about the long fall should I make a misstep. I raced bikes with my friends down hills and climbed though culverts which narrowed nervously to the point where I thought none of us would ever be able to squeeze through. We did, and we never went back there again. I suppose all of us spent our childhood doing some things that weren’t the smartest, but isn’t that how we learned? And wasn’t it fun? At least most of it?

We had our adventures and lived to come home and set the table while begging to have a cookie before we died of hunger. Of course my mom told me to wait, and sitting at the table was almost heavenly as we happily devoured mashed potatoes and spare ribs. Some nights we even had dessert. So how does this have anything to do with the trees surrounding my old house and my new one? Well, I think we carry the happy parts of our childhood with us, and we feel blissfully happy when our lives bring us back to what we felt as teens or much younger children. I once lived in a house with a beautifully green bedroom that had trees hiding my windows. It felt private, as though it were my secret refuge from the teenage world, and I loved it.

What else do we carry forward from younger years? Why do we listen to the music of our high school years? How can a song from junior year bring us to that day our boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with us? Yes, we’ve found new music to enjoy in the ensuing years, but those songs that we played too loudly (according to our brothers or fathers who had very different taste in music) evoke the feelings from back then if we’ll allow it. If music can do that, why not a warm spring breeze or the rustlings of a restless tree outside our window?

As adults we have responsibilities and roles to play, but when it’s our time to do with as we please, then why not pause to watch how far north the sun swings in a late spring evening? My house perches full north, and while I heard the bullfrogs who refused to be ignored and noticed the lilting lullaby sung by the creek on long summer days, I missed the nuances one only notices over time. So while I finally picked up the bestselling Where the Crawdads Sing with tea for company, I heard more than the owl who finally decided to come back. I saw more than the wall of green trees standing sentinel over this house.

I saw the way the trees line the path down the steep hill that my husband made this winter. I step outside to watch the water make its way down over the small falls, and I realize how wonderfully positioned our home is. I wanted a home that ignored the north, since the very word conjures up frigid winters spent in Wisconsin watching in alarm as frost crept up my bedroom wall. In my third summer here, I see how the southern view looks out on woods, cliffs, ravines and that beautiful creek. And I’m learning which rooms look out over leafy green limbs that make me feel like I’m above it all.

I have spent my life finding what was good in every house I’ve lived in, and if we do that wherever we are, we’re bound to find a slice of contentment even in a small apartment. I lived in a room no larger than my walk-in closet in college, and I felt cozy in my burrow with a window peeking out at the yard. In that first apartment of my own, where the couple downstairs made so much noise when they argued, I only had to turn on my fan to block the noise and look at the green plants I had bought one lonely night after work. Far from home, with a stressful job and friends strewn across the country, I found solace in what my mother did whenever we moved: bringing out the ferns, the spider plants, and the green plants she nurtured.

With our world filling in with green and that lovely deep blue that only arrives before high summer, we can find our happiness. I suppose I love evening most when I watch the sun slip below the horizon and yet the clouds above remain lit up by that same sun. An age ago I was making dinner one night when my mom and I stepped out to watch a thunderstorm approach, and I miss my old house where I could sit and see the lightning that streaked through the windows we decided to leave open. I always lit a candle just in case the lights went out, and while I still light candles; I’m still learning where to watch for the lightning. For the wildly beautiful oncoming storms of summer.

We can find happiness in places unexpected. Today while I quickly strode through our downtown “city”, since I had flowers wilting in the car waiting for the bridal shower I’m hosting tomorrow; I stopped back at the shop where I found old white ironstone bowls and still didn’t buy them. And I passed so many people enjoying the bike trail that passes through there, and others who were digging into their cups of ice cream; and the happiness at seeing people outside and together again made me buoyant with hope. I think we’re going to get through this. We can be together again if we so choose.

I’ll miss the sweatpants and t shirts. I might even miss not feeling guilty over sitting and watching another episode of The Waltons. I know! It’s an addiction. Though I just discovered The Great British Baking Show, so there’s hope for me yet. But think of all we’re gaining! We can hopefully have the wedding with no masks needed while we dance. The bridal party can be stand at the altar with their smiles in full view. We can fly to see my parents again. The freedom is spacious and happy, and I’m so waiting to take that trip to Scotland the minute Americans are allowed back in.

I found this in a shop when I went out with my bride-to-be daughter. We were back in her old neighborhood for a dress fitting and decided to wander into the shops that had flung open their doors, beckoning us to come inside. I missed the cute boutiques that didn’t make it, but we happily shopped at the stores that remained and bought a few things for ourselves. It’s been so long, and it felt like the world was on their best behavior and sweet as pie.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re enjoying the greens and blues that make this time of year so pleasant. I hope you venture out to your old haunts and find new places to enjoy too. Find those songs from your teen years and listen to them one night, preferably as you sit outside drinking in the lingering twilight. Maybe it’s time to buy a green plant for outside, and while you plant in the warm dirt, look up and marvel at the clouds sailing past. This is the season we easily embrace, and while I’m going to go back to my book, I’ll think about how tomorrow the sun will stay out one minute longer. Enjoy those minutes. Enjoy as much as you can. Look for the little things that bring a smile to you. And maybe to others.

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

Until next time,
Deanna