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

Moon, Stars, Sun and wind…

My daughter just told me September is my favorite month…

What is your favorite month? You can only choose only one of the twelve available, and I’d love it if you’d leave your fave in the comments. It matters to me, because I thought I liked July best, simply because it’s my birthday month and summer. I’ve liked July since I knew there was a July. Who doesn’t love summer? Except I’m not in school anymore, and my last child is in his last year of college. I don’t have to go by the start of the school year ever again to determine what season it is. Fall can begin on September 1st or even the 22nd (as it does officially), and I can choose which one based on my mood.

Which means my daughter is probably right. As I write this I hear how dry the leaves have become as they bend in the light breeze of autumn. To enjoy autumn you have to like messes. The leaves that are starting to fall are rather untidy, and they choose where to land. We have no say over that, and I used to loathe how mussed my yard and gardens looked each September and October.

But now? Living further south means the leaves don’t all tumble down until November, which makes for three full months of uncoordinated leaves piling up on the ground. I like the husky sound of the leaves that move restlessly waiting for their turn to fly. The crickets and tree frogs have no idea they’re days are running out, so stepping outside at night is a wild summer pleasure; if I play pretend. It sounds like summer, except for those relentless leaves and the dry corn that movesand rustles.

Do you look at the sky much? The blue is back, since the brassy bold hues have retreated; and it’s delightful to see wisps of cirrus clouds scurrying across the clearest blue skies we’ve seen in months. Sure, my neighbors are starting to stockpile pumpkins and mums interspersed with the occasional corn stalks or hay bales. I’m giving in too, except my Boston ferns went wild this summer, and they are huge! I’m such a proud plant mama that I cannot bear to toss them aside to make room for autumn’s decor of the largest mums I can pick up. Are you ready for the change? Are you looking forward to this next season?

I asked my husband, since I like input from others. He said he loves autumn (but his birthday is in October, and I still stand by my assertion that we all love our birthday month), but he added that autumn is tinged with some sadness; because winter follows next. We talked about winter, which can bring dreary, cloudy skies for weeks on end. But If we can enjoy where we are in that moment with no thought of where we are headed; then I think we can find contentment and peace.

September is my favorite month now. My daughter is right. I can be outdoors without sweating, and that makes painting or gardening pleasant. Going for a walk means fresh, cooler air; so I don’t feel like I’m walking inside a sauna. I used to feel sad at the loss of leaves on the trees, but my mother-in-law taught me to appreciate the bare trees, so we can see the sky in all its beauty. Look up this month. At night or at sunset, which looks mystical to me. Even the sun in its zenith feels pleasant in this month of honking geese, dusty leaves and nights with some cold sneaking in the back door that I like to keep open.

If we accept the beauty of today, and if we purposefully look for it; then I think we’ll find a slice of happiness. Take a book outside, or walk and listen to the outdoors talking to itself. Drop that podcast and listen for the heart of autumn. Lose yourself in the river laughing as it tumbles over rocks. Wait for the frost to arrive by donning a blanket and sitting outside and admire the last of summer’s flowers. No fire is needed, though you can enjoy it’s warmth as we sink deeper into the season. Find a park or go camping. Stay at a cabin. Take a drive and get out to walk the trails.

Embrace September and the month of full moons and trick-or-treats that will soon follow. Sometimes I think getting away from the comfort of our space and spending time among trees, ponds, wild grass, and trails is the best way to destress. We need that now more than ever, so take care of yourself and find your spot. You just might find out how much you like the autumn months, too. I’m not even asking you to read a book or drink warmed apple cider or a pumpkin spice anything. Just listen to the sounds of September wherever you live, and you’ll come inside feeling a lot better.

I almost forgot to tell a story. This goes back decades ago to our first tiny home in the city in Wisconsin. Our elderly neighbor across the street had the best lawn I’ve ever seen. Green, lush, full and thick. He babied his grass, and when all we had was a small patch of yard in the front and back it was easy to become obsessed with that small space. He mowed it lovingly, making patterns that would make most golf courses green with envy. But Mr. Huley did not have a single tree in his yard. None. His neighbors did off to one side, so if the wind blew from the north, old Mr. Huley would have leaves on his beautiful grass. He’d run outside to pick those leaves off his yard, and he never stopped running outside to remove a leaf. Ever.

One week my parents came for a visit, and my dad watched my old neighbor carefully plucking up the errant autumn leaves. My dad went for a walk, as he does most days; but he decided to drop a few leaves on Mr. Huley’s green grass and watch how long it took him to scurry out to tidy up his yard. We timed it. My neighbor was out there within fifteen minutes! My dad tried it one last time before they left, and again Mr. Huley was outside picking up the leaves within minutes! He must have spent autumn sitting inside, watching his yard for untidy leaves.

Mr. Huley taught me to enjoy the leaves, the mess, and the untidy look of autumn. It’s funny what lessons we learn from others without really knowing it at the time. And yes, it’s amusing to see what we do for fun sometimes. I still think of dear Mr. Huley who had the best patch of green grass my eyes have ever seen, and I thank him for lessons learned and laughter shared with my father. Enjoy messes. Don’t be a hoarder, but don’t be so compulsive about having a tidy space, because sometimes other things matter so much more. There are days meant to be enjoyed even if life is a bit messy. Maybe especially then.

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

Until next time,
Deanna

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