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

Breathless Wonder…

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I’ve been waiting weeks for today. The first day of spring. Not calendar spring, but that undeniable mist of green covering every bush, ready to burst forth with tender leaves, and daffodils nodding their pretty yellow heads that, yes, it’s here. My daffodils are trusty and stood up in defiance of an early spring snowfall, whereas my magnolia tree? She waited and now those creamy white blooms reach out heavenward and I know it. I’m in love with the world again.

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How can anyone feel ill on such a beautiful day, I once asked myself, about a hundred years ago. Because I was. I thought twenty year olds stayed healthy until old age dawned. You know, like, around age forty at least. I smile at my younger self. I can laugh at her too. Especially on days when happiness is the creek running fast, gurgling songs that make you pay attention to her. And did I mention the bluebirds I’ve seen in my yard?

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How can you not feel gloriously happy when bluebirds show up at your bird feeder? The gentle spring rains are adding their music to my day, while I sit here in the quiet and listen to the pattering on the roof, snug underneath, thick socks still keeping toes cozy. Don’t days like this feel wonderful? Happiness, like love, is so much easier when hope blooms. And it is. Some of you have already thrown open your windows to catch the warm whispers of spring breezes, while others wait patiently for old man winter to finally move out for good.

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Happiness looks you in the mirror in the mornings, because that sun is starting to shine so brightly, that even wrinkles look good. Yes, I am that enthralled by spring. Aren’t we all lured outdoors to bear witness to the dawn, and the gold-hued world she offers on sun drenched mornings? I’m called out in the evenings, the colors feel more muted and soothing, and I love holding tea in my hands, while drinking in the purples, chasing the pinks, that follow the orange in the sky.

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Even if you’re sick, in body or heart, take time to be outside in the freshness of this spring. You need time out for you, and ten minutes of sitting on your front step is pouring life and love back into your body. Share the moment with others and add to your happiness. I like to pick out the evening star and remember the night my father taught me the basic constellations. If you can get away from city lights, look into the night sky and be filled with stars and planets.

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On a late spring evening when I lived farther south, I stood under the whisperings of a willow tree with several friends, ready to head home. My best friend’s brother reached out to my thirteen year old self, to catch my attention, and I’ll always remember him saying with a measure of wonder in his voice,”Your skin feels so soft.” It caught me off guard. Was that a good thing? Soft skin? Because a thirteen year old girl back then didn’t know if she was pretty or pretty enough. At least, I didn’t. I wanted dark hair and dark skin, but had been handed very light hair with almost blonde skin, so I didn’t know if what I saw looking at me in the mirror was okay. When the guy I secretly liked said that to me, I felt beautiful and light, as though I had drunk a glass of wine.

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Why do I bring that up? Because most of us are lucky enough to have had springs of discovery, where we found our footing in a precarious world. We only have a handful of springs before responsibility calls our name and we enter the race. Busyness claims us, one by one. But don’t let the cares of this world keep you from feeling love, wonder, happiness and hope. We were made for these days. May wide-eyed wonder fill your days (and evenings) this week.

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Until next time…

Resolutely resolutionless…

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Here we are with another year spent and a new one arriving in hours. There are things I want to do; accomplishments awaiting my toil, but I don’t think I’m going to make any resolutions this year. Last year brought a bucketful of trouble sprinkled with a few blessings bestowed. Sometimes getting through the year with your humor intact and new ways to observe this world is enough.

It’s frigid out here, and that’s affecting me too. Just driving to the cold grocery store and laying in a store of provisions feels like a monumental achievement. I’m an indoors girl once it’s below freezing, so our plans for celebrating a new year by staying in the city and running all over town having bunches of fun, didn’t sound like it would be all that wonderful. I cancelled the hotel room and decided it’s cabin time.

 

I said goodbye to my Christmassy home (though these flowers felt like a whiff of January), and we packed sweats and hoodies and thick socks to ring in 2018. Do you take Christmas down the day after? I just can’t. My mom tells me stories about long ago Christmases not beginning until December 24th, with the tree and caroling and Christmas cookies and feasting continuing until Epiphany, on January 6th. I’m trying to keep it going, but our world drags us into the Christmas season by Halloween. So I’m happy to be ensconced at the cabin for a bit with no twinkle lights or nutcrackers. Just a lot of warm blankets. And my winter potpourri.

 

The potpourri sits in the strangest vintage bowl I’ve ever seen. Is it meant only for pretzels? Am I using it incorrectly? I bring out my winter finds; the ones I reserve for the dark days of January. Do you? Doesn’t it feel like a slice of heaven to be home, in a warm corner, with the scent of pine or piñon, book in hand, with maybe a chocolate truffle or three, ready to while away the evening?

 

Cats really have perfected the art of relaxing wherever they are. My Willie makes himself at home in the warmest room, while I linger near the fire. The cabin sat at a firm 55 degrees when we walked in today. It’s toasty warm now though. Just perfect. Quiet.

The quiet season. Hush. Sure, there are parties aplenty with spirits and noise and sequins and kissing at midnight, but this year, after the year we had, we packed up some steaks, potatoes and a cake (hey, it’s always a good time for a cake, and it will be my breakfast tomorrow morning along with my hot coffee). It feels right this year. Just us. And the cats, of course. Piles of magazines at my feet. Contentment. Even though I threw my back out yesterday and then hurt myself sweeping the cabin today. Even then…

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We choose our moods. Kind of. So my back hurts. I’ll be okay in a few days I hope. In the meantime, I wander around the cabin taking some pictures. The beauty of being out here in the middle of nowhere is amazing. My husband is tramping around outside, checking on things. I linger close to the house. I reflect on how I’ve grown this year, as I remember the substantial losses, and the wonderfully magical gains. The quiet is lovely. No Times Square this year. Just a bunch of hills and a smattering of snow.

 

 

What will 2018 bring to our doorstep? How do we move forward and step into the new?

I’m resolutely against resolutions this year. A certain number of times around the sun and I realize maybe January isn’t the best time to begin training for the marathon, or planting a garden. Maybe January calls for quiet. Reverence. Introspection.

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Maybe a bunch of books, thick socks and an iced tea in silence is just what we need. No running away from yourself. No staying so busy you miss out on you. By the way, I drink iced tea in sub-zero temps. Crazy, I know. But back to resolutions. I make mine in September when the kids return to their schools. Right now? I’m just trying to keep myself away from that glorious cake waiting on the counter.

Aren’t we meant to drink soups and eat casseroles now? To huddle together underneath quilts piled high? To read the not classic literature but the kind that holds you mesmerized long into the night?

 

Let’s plunge into January with hopes for a happy year. And a nice, long January thaw.

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Be happy, sweet friend. Welcome 2018 with open hands…