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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall and "nesting"


No, I'm not pregnant...that would mean another Star in the East had been sighted. No, what I mean is it's Fall and all my NESTING genes are kicked into high gear! A friend noted on Facebook that it was wonderful to cook when the temps were below 90! It has been such a brutal summer, temperature wise, here in Sweet Home Alabama that the subtle nudge of fall is enough to send me into full fledged Autumn Gazing Domestic Bliss!

Fall is just over the hill, meandering over my way, painting the sumac leaves red and heaving the occasional acorn onto my roof. I sometimes stop and remind myself that it's not hunting season YET... just the POP of an acorn landing on the shed roof is enough to send my Border Collie, Hank, into an all out panic attack!

Fall announces itself with the honking of geese flying south (further south than Sweet Home Alabama) and color that creeps up on you over night. I"m certain that my sugar maple didn't have the hint of red/orange this time yesterday that is peeping at me today when I drove up in the driveway.

I live on a small farm in the country and my driveway is melodramatic...in that you can be returning from whatever and the minute you pull into the first 10 ft of asphalt it's like I'm entering a different world...one that is quieter, cooler, slower, further away,...one that locks the "world" outside and s l o w l y wraps me in a cocoon called "You're Home".

At the very end of the driveway, on the edge of the backyard, grows a Sugar Maple, the offspring of a much bigger Maple that had to be put to sleep 20 yrs. ago. I've watched this one little seedling grow slowly before my eyes on a daily basis. Right after Big Mama went to tree heaven we didn't notice the little one and when after a few years we did take note, everyone agreed she had to go too. I'm not sure why nothing was ever done but year after year "tree baby" continued to grow. Now, in 2010, she is a mature young lady, much like her Mama, who has earned her right to grow old on the farm.

My sweet Sugar Maple announces each season in her own unique way; however, fall is her most triumphant time of year! The flaming red-gold leaves actually make her look like she's on fire. The color begins at the top and works itself slowly down my showy little lady....often over night...until her entire ensemble is one mass of flaming Fire!

In Fall,not only do I begin leaf peeping more,baking more, cooking more, and decorating more, I sit on the porch more... reading from 2-3 books or 3-5 magazines as the mood leads me. I've finished "Three Cups of Tea" and begun the sequel, "Stones for Schools". The covers of fall magazines have this magical lure for me...I can't see a pumpkin, fall table scape, or apple creation on their cover without plopping open my wallet. I HAVE to Have it...I save each edition from year to year so now I have quite a collection after approx. 7 yrs of collecting Southern Living, Family Circle, Woman's Day, etc...If the cover looks like fall I will buy it. I actually do read them but they seem brand new every year.

Cool fall afternoons while the Grandpeep sleeps is a lovely time to read a fall recipe, how to make a fall door wreath from items in my yard, how to decorate my table in the newest autumn tablescape, or ideas for Halloween.

Halloween...ahhhh!!!...now that's another post for another day. Oh how I do love Halloween!! Maybe it comes from my childhood or taking my own children "trick or -treating" before it became politically incorrect. I just Love me some Halloween!!

For now, I have apples sliced and baking utensils cluttering my kitchen counters. The window is up and a most wonderful breeze is blowing. I wish for the smell of leaves burning but unfortunately due to the summer drought we are under a burn ban so... no burning leaves for now. The smell of cinnamon will have to do for now. Time to suspend the journey down memory lane and time to get my autumn "behind" out of this chair and GET BUSY!!!

What are your Fall Memories???

Wednesday, September 15, 2010



As fall weather begins to peep around the corner for those of us here in the Deep South, I always think back to my childhood in the beautiful hills of West Virginia! Oh those gorgeous MOUNTAINS!!!!! I took them so for granted growing up until I migrated south and I would hear people call a local geographical upheaval in the earth's crust a MOUNTAIN, when in my mind, it was nothing but a "HILL"!! I suppose it WAS/IS higher than most points around North Alabama but when I think MOUNTAINS, I think of those West Virginia Hills "so majestic and so grand" as the words in the state song reverberates in my head. The sun glinting on the leaves as I walked home from school left me with childhood fantasies of raking enough leaves to make the largest pile in the whole world for all my friends to jump in, or living my own brand of the show "SURVIVOR" in the woods around my house, or carving the largest Jack-O-Lantern on Center Street Fall 1964. Fall made me HAPPY! For some reason, Fall made everything GOOD.

So, as Autumn quietly descends upon me, I still feel like that little girl walking home from school wondering if I could get my homework done fast enough to go outside and play in the leaves. Often, Mama would give me a reprieve from homework immediately after school and allow me to play outside. Mary Shrewsbury believed outside and fresh air was kin to godliness and ranked right up there with finishing homework so...fall meant I got some extra time outside. I didn't need playmates if I were pretending to be surviving in the woods. For some odd reason, my favorite pretend play was consumed with being homeless, on the run, or abandoned and having to survive using the elements of nature as my only resource. I thought it was weird of me to like that sort of role playing until I found out that my youngest daughter used to love to pretend the very same sort of "survival of the fittest" games. Collecting acorns was a real passion as was pine cones. My love of Shredded Wheat cereal was not due to the fabulous taste (especially to an 8 yr. old) but I just knew it was what grass tasted like! Sometimes I would sneak those little shredded wheat "biscuits" outside to place in my "secret hideaway" and to further enhance the whole survival experience. Alone, I could be anyone, say anything, or act out my "story" to my heart's content.

In West Virginia, we had a 4 day weekend each fall for "teacher workdays" which translated to me and all my friends, "playing in the leaves" vacation! We would each have our own rake and the object was to see how high we could build a pile. Once the jumping began, one self appointed leaf fairy would volunteer to RERAKE the leaves after each jump. That person was usually someone allergic to leaves and whose mother had told them don't go jumping in those leaves! You might fall on a stick and impale yourself." The rest of us had mothers who had given the same dire warning to watch out for sharp sticks and other foreign objects lurking hidden in and under leaf piles but to a group of 8 & 9 yr. old kids, our Moms were just party poopers who wanted to take the fun out of everything! Oh to be a kid again, strong and energetic enough to rake & jump in leaves for hours! In my mind, I can see the yellows, gold, red and brown of those leaves, smell that musty damp odor, and feel the grit in my eyes from leaf debris.

Inevitably, someone would get hurt, either they found that ONE pointy stick in the leaf pile, or had the wind knocked out of them from landing too hard in the leaf pile after underestimating the amount of "cushion" a 6 ft. pile of leaves can provide a bunch of 8/9 yr. old booties. This meant the day was pretty much over and one by one we would meander back home whether home was next door, down the street, or 2 blocks away. Some rode their bikes and the rest walked home. Living in a small town back in the 50's/60's afforded us as kids the luxury of being away from our home with little or no supervision...armed only with the strict instructions given to us by our mothers or fathers as to how we were to act & behave. We were given rules as to how long we could stay, what our parameters were, and the consequences of breaking those rules. Life was easier that way and I don't remember any of my closest friends ever breaking the rules. I know for certain, I never did! The thought of disappointing my mother was devastating to me as a child and continued to be that way until she died at age 86. MY mother was my rock, my mentor, my guide, my heart, my EVERYTHING! To this day, 7 yrs after she passed away in 2003, I still find myself wanting to pick up a phone to call her and recant the "Trauma" of the day or week. She always loved to hear mine and my sisters' stories. Her interest in even the smallest details of our lives gives me some insight as to how God must feel when I don't pray on a consistent basis...how He knows the number of hairs on my head and yet so often,I leave Him out of my life's minutia. I know HE KNOWS before I tell HIM, but like my sweet Mama, HE wants so much to personally hear it from me!

AHH! Fall or Autumn whatever floats your boat. You make me HAPPY!!...... from each candy apple, caramel apple, candy corn, & popcorn ball to every "Trick-or Treat, Jack-O-Lantern, black cat coloring page, and apple orchard...You, Autumn, Make ME HAPPY!!! On any given fall Saturday in the Hill's Dept. Store parking lot, the memory of homemade apple butter simmering in a huge black "witches" cauldron by the Women's Guild of the Methodist church still wafts in my mind of cinnamon, cloves and apple peelings, curling in piles beside the "apple peelers". Did you know that you can tell the first letter of your future husband's name by taking one long continuous apple peeling, holding the peeling up & allowing it to unfurl, then dropping it on the floor. Whatever letter is formed will begin to spell the name of your one true love. Of course, all us little girls (and big girls too) kept dropping the apple peeling until it formed the letter of our current true love (only known to ourselves) and which verified the inevitability of our future union. FALL makes me HAPPY!!

School Fall Festivals were highly anticipated events. That game of "Go Fishing" was definitely going to result in me winning at least 10 of the cheapest items in the prize box. Cheap prizes from China didn't matter because I was there, I had money in my pocket, and I was with my cousins David & Scott. Not having had brothers, David & Scott provided me with the next best thing...boy cousins that were LIKE brothers but you didn't have to live with them all the time and keep them out of your stuff.
However... when they insisted I go through the Haunted House I wanted to disavow any family relationship to them!! Both would tell me in no uncertain terms "You HAVE to go in with us because we were told we couldn't leave you by yourself, so if we go, YOU go!"

To this day, I have NO love for anything Haunted HOUSE!!!

We were usually tired and ready to go home after our "haunted house" visit; so we set out to locate our parents who were most likely patiently waiting in a designated "parents only"classroom with a coffeepot.....none of these helicopter parents walking lockstep with their children narrating each event and/or making judgment on where to go, what to do, or what group has the best chance of upgrading their child's social status on Monday morning. Nope, we were on our own and liked it that way. Considering my mother would have been considered a lenient parent by today's standards, it is almost funny to learn that Mrs. Mary was by all accounts a very "picky" mother when it came to where I went, who I went with, and most importantly did I "mind my manners" while there. Yes, Fall Festivals made me HAPPY!!

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