Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wednesday's Words for October 24, 2018

Autumn colors abound. The air holds a nip of impending winter, and displays of jack-o-lanterns, calico corn, and gourds both colorful and distinctive find their way to porches and decks, and even store fronts. Those first few really nippy mornings of fall always remind me of my youth, of donning a jacket and just walking until my cheeks were nearly stinging. Fresh air and sunshine, accompanied by the darkening clouds, or the dense grey clouds that I refer to as a “snow sky” paint a tableau of the changing season. The breeze in the trees whispers “winter’s coming”.

Squirrels are scampering to gather and save, to prepare for the lean months to come. I’ve already made my first bean soup of the season—I refer to it as “beanie goodness”—and I’m practically itching to imitate the squirrels, not by gathering nuts, but by canning. If the urge doesn’t pass I might see what I can make. But likely it will. Wanting to batten down the hatches and ensure there’s lots in the larder is an urge as old as time. It’s part of our survival instincts at work. My larder is full enough at the moment.

Our walnut tree had a great many leaves this year and almost no walnuts. I’m not sure if that is a harbinger about the nature of the impending winter, or just a cyclical event in the life of walnut trees. I’m not sure I recall the tree every yielding quite so few walnuts before, but then my memory isn’t as reliable as once it was. Honestly, I only saw three or four walnuts, total, and this is a big tree. Since I live in a kind of self-imposed bubble, I have no idea how the other walnut trees in town fared. I really should take a short drive and find out. There are so many of them in the area, and the walnuts leave such a mess on the street, it shouldn’t take me long to know if our tree is unique or a part of a natural trend.

The tree has already dropped all its leaves. For the most part, they’ve been seen to. My husband used his leaf-blower to amass them, and our grandson carted them by the wheelbarrow full up to the back corner of our yard, where we now have a compost pile. On two separate occasions. Now we’re awaiting the maple trees across the street from us to shed their foliage. I always tell my husband and grandson that cleaning up the maple leaves that end up on our property is the price we pay for having had the privilege of enjoying the view of them from spring to autumn.

We’ve already purchased our Halloween candy—mini chocolate bars consisting of 4 varieties that are popular here—one of which is not available in the U.S. (Coffee Crisp). They were on sale, and so I bought 2 boxes. No, we don’t get that many little Halloweeners, as I call them. But I am the wife of a man and the mother of a woman who both love their chocolate. I don’t mind an occasional taste of chocolate myself, but I eat so little of it, I buy it the rest of the year by the small bag that has little tiny servings—like the mini peanut butter cups. I go weeks without any cocoa-laden product passing my lips. So for me as well, having individually wrapped mini bars in excess for a time works.

I used to make all my children’s Halloween costumes, although I would never say my sewing skills were prime. I did well enough to please them, and that’s all that mattered. Both my daughter and my son have a fine hand at sewing and making clothes. My father-in-law taught my son and my daughter how to knit. Sewing from a pattern my son learned on his own. This allowed him to create a fine tradition with his daughter—he used to make her little princess dresses for trick-or-treat time. Their other tradition for the season is father-daughter pumpkin carving.

They take their competition seriously and produce very creative jack-o-lanterns.

When I watch my children being parents, I can’t help but smile. I see in their actions some of the traditions I passed on from my own childhood—and a desire, in them both, to discover brand new ones to hand down.


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