Thursday, September 28, 2017

Falling for Seasonal Change

Yup, the seasons have definitely changed in my neck of the woods. Fall is officially here.

Blinking traffic lights tell me so.

I relish a time of transition when the passing of summer ushers in a season when crowds disappear and lines shrink at the grocery store, Rite Aid, Wawa, and restaurants, a season characterized by cooler weather, earlier evenings, later sunlit mornings, and quieter streets.

Actually the streets are not as quiet as I would like them to be. This is the season repairmen and construction workers descend on my town, building and fixing and completing work homeowners ignored all summer. The banging, clanging and drilling are a disruptive influence on laid-back mornings – starting too early – and afternoons, forcing doors and windows closed to avoid the racket.

Back to the blinking lights. Less traffic allows the replacement of red, green and yellow on one of our main streets with a constant blinking yellow light. No need for stop-and-go driving. Cruise down the avenue; enjoy the changing landscape colors from green to yellows, reds and brown, the bike riders, joggers and skateboarders, savor life in the slow lane.

Soups and casseroles replace fresh salads and walks to the ice cream parlor. No more local corn. Locally grown tomatoes will be available for only a couple more weeks. And most area farmer’s markets closed until next summer.

Morning hot coffee replaces large glasses of ice coffee. I wear jeans for the first time in weeks and dig out long sleeve shirts. Don’t need them yet, but will soon. Sneakers replace sandals as my footwear of choice.

Time to think about hurricane season and hope our town avoids devastating storms this year. Time to clean out the closet and bag items that will never again see the light of day on my body (or hub’s), but are still in good enough shape for the thrift shop.

Time to think about preparing the garden for months of dormancy. Time to move toys to the garage until next summer. And time to think about cold weather relief. What warm weather destination will hub and I visit this winter?

Time to embrace the change of seasons. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Greeting Fall

Hub and I, along with Mom, traveled north to the pristine landscape 
of Vermont to greet our family -and the fall season. 
Before leaving, however, the winds and rain of Hurricane Jose, raging in the Atlantic Ocean, 
battered the shores of our hometown.

We bid farewell to summer on the shores of Lake Champlain.
Great Grandma, 92 years young, waves goodbye to summer as she 
and her almost-two-year-old great granddaughter enjoy a ride on the carousel.

The bright colors of mums and an evergreen full of pine cones signal change.

And of course, pumpkins!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Lies Our Leaders Tell Us

Do politicians believe the lies they spout are truths? Or, knowing they are lies, tell those lies to manipulate the masses to get whatever it is they want.

Like votes.

Do the statesmen and women denying climate change believe it is a hoax?

I don’t know. The powers that be deny a lot when in power. It is not a new phenomenon.

On September 19, 1633 – almost 400 years ago – the scientist Galileo went before the Inquisition accused of heresy because he believed the Earth revolves around the sun. He expressed his position and wrote about the theory, first proposed by Copernicus 100 years earlier.

The political/religious power of the time – the Catholic Church – felt threatened by this usurper who denied what the Church taught to be true: the earth was the center of the universe.

Did anyone inside the Church believe Galileo’s beliefs correct? Did everyone think Galileo (and Copernicus) wrong? Did anyone carefully evaluate the scientists’ work? Or was the Church more concerned with power, prestige, and maintaining control over the populace than learning the truth?

The Church censored Galileo. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

On October 31,1992 – about 350 years after Galileo stood before the Inquisition - Pope John Paul II issued a statement conceding the errors of the Catholic Church in regard to Galileo’s scientific views.
Over 25 years later, in 2008, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences announced a plan to honor Galileo by erecting a statue of him in the Vatican. Later that year, during events marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo's initial observations, Pope Benedict XVI commended Galileo’s contributions to astronomy. But less than a month later the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture revealed that the plan for a statue had been postponed.
I have no idea how long it will be before climate change naysayers admit their stated positions are dishonest and downright wrong. Perhaps they never will.
I am sure there are Trump supporters who believe every denial the man utters, even when faced with written, verbal, video, social media and witness evidence, believing without any doubt everything he pontificates. Not that he is a minister or monk, reverend or rabbi, priest, padre or preacher, Buddhist holy man or fakeer – that word is not misspelled, although one thing he can be called is a faker.
I do not know how long it will take for the majority, the populace, the everyman, to realize so many of DT’s ideas are wrong. One day DT’s positions will be thrown on the trash heap of history, just like the Church’s belief that the earth is the center of the universe.
Admitting defeat sometimes takes a long, long time, occasionally never, illustrated by the fact that the Church, four centuries after Galileo announced his findings, still holds a grudge.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Gardening Guru I Am Not

I read articles by fellow bloggers extolling the bounty of their garden. I smile as friends regale me with the variety of veggies harvested from their small corner of the Earth, mounds of zucchini filling their refrigerator and beautiful flowers adorning their table.

I remain silent. My fingers do not fly over computer keys writing on and on about the beauty of my garden’s tomatoes, the bounty of my beans, the crispness of my cucumbers or the crunchiness of my greens.

I do not write about or discuss my garden prowess.

My garden flopped this summer.

There is no one to blame but me. I cannot fault Mother Nature, anyone or anything else. I could not tend the garden most of May and the first half of June because I was out of town. Entertaining grandkids took up the second half of June.

Seeds and seedlings planted early May were on their own. Unfortunately the Benign Neglect School of Gardening failed me.

My garden succumbed to inattention and almost total abandonment.

Confession: I do not have a vibrant green thumb. My dull digit tilts light green to yellow, green for healthy plants and yellow for ones struggling to survive. Brown is another color appearing in patches around my garden. The dismal drab shrunken leaves cried out to me, “Help me! Help me!” but I did not listen.

I was not around or quickly passing through, glanced at the plants and moved on. Tomorrow I said to myself, tomorrow I will garden…

Too many plants could not survive without me, yellows and browns outnumbering healthy greens.

Not everything disappointed. Basil, a holdover from past years, flourished. Four or five cherry tomato plants produced a few delicious products. A couple of eggplant also made it to my kitchen.

But no large, juicy tomatoes grew in my backyard this year. No beans or cucumbers or carrots or peppers. I cannot remember what else I planted, but it doesn’t matter. Most seeds never sprouted. A small number peeked through the soil, grew tiny leaves and quickly wilted, trying to hold on, patiently awaiting my tender loving care.

But it was not to be. I did not provide much TLC this summer.

No excuses. Weather-wise it was a wonderful year, plenty of rain and sunshine in the early months to coax vegetables and flowers to grow. Long sunny days throughout the summer and ample rain sustained thriving plants.

Hopefully next year produces better results. With my diligent help, of course.

Now I can only lament my shortcomings while shopping at a local food store, oohing and aahing over the beauty and bounty of produce displayed.

For the remainder of the season I will force a smile when friends enthusiastically chat on about their successful garden. I will gloss over articles about what a wonderful harvest season this was and how delicious the fruits of one’s labor turned out to be.

Fortunately it won’t be long before talk shifts to the turning leaves, cooler weather, holidays, and indoor activities. I can’t wait! 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fall is in the Air

Lingering with drinks, late afternoon,
enjoying sunset over the bay
(NOT my front porch!)
I sit on my front porch completely shaded by an overhang and the sinking sun. It is not very late in the afternoon. A few weeks ago, not even that long ago, it would still be hot, bright and sunny this time of day, no shadows blocking sunlight from the garden.

But things change. Now after 4:00 in the afternoon trees sway, producing a cool refreshing breeze. Almost chilly. Not nippy yet, but in a couple of weeks a brisk breeze will have me running for a sweater. Or going inside and staying inside.

Shadows lengthen as the sun moves across the sky, lower each day, imperceptibly so, but I can tell. Flowers stretch to get as much sunshine as possible. They know. Less light, cooler temperatures, they will soon disappear.
Fall is in the air in my corner of the world.

Labor Day marks the informal end of summer. There are a couple more weeks of official summer, but around my world the summer season is over. The town is abuzz over the long holiday weekend, folks getting their last fill of sun and fun. Restaurants are packed, cyclists ride up and down the boardwalk and streets, and Moms and Dads drag tons of gear to the beach while kids lament a return to school.
Sun, sand, sea water, water toys - what could be better!
Riding bikes on the boardwalk.
Soon I will transfer potted plants indoors. Mobiles will be taken down and packed away until next spring, outdoor chairs stacked in the garage along with the plastic picnic table. The grill should be stored in the garage but too often we forget, leaving it out until biting rain or snow surprises. We like to grill as long as possible, although food is carried indoors for a comfortable eating atmosphere.

The neighborhood ice cream shop closes along with some restaurants at the first sign of cold weather, shuttered until next April or May.

Birds act livelier now that hot weather does not relegate them to long daily naps, cooler weather encouraging flight. They survey surroundings and sing to each other; warbles we all can enjoy. But most of the birds will soon be traveling on.

Local produce abounds, yet the appearance of fall crops - squash, carrots, broccoli, greens, fruit - and the disappearance of garden-fresh corn is tinged with sadness.

Summer held such promise a few short weeks ago. The agreeable weather, the sunshine, extended daylight hours, lazy afternoons, quiet evenings and long lines at the ice cream shop launched an endless summer.

But seasons come and go. Everything moves on. Everyone marches along.

We recall summers past and look forward to sunny seasons yet to come.

One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter. 
— Henry David Thoreau 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Life in Perspective

I work with a Program Committee of three, planning and organizing a series of continuing education courses, our target group retirees. Sometimes we get wrapped up in details and worry about minor issues as if they were major catastrophes. Take yesterday’s class

The documentary film was the last of a summer series. To end with a bang, so to speak, we went beyond the usual. In addition to showing an excellent documentary (pre-screened by us, award winner, interesting topic) we planned snacks – fruit and mini-cheesecakes (small squares from Sam’s Club – they are REALLY good-too good…) and also engaged a quartet to play following the movie.

The day before the class we found out the musicians believed they were to show up at 3:00 p.m. – exactly the time the program ended.

Jim, the instructor, called me concerned and befuddled. What do we do?

We discussed the dilemma. We both felt stressed, worried the afternoon would be a muddled failure. Then Jim put the situation in perspective, matter-of-factly stating, “With what’s going on in Houston, this is nothing.”

He was right. We would handle the situation best we could and move on.

A phone call urged the men (the quartet was all male) to arrive half an hour beforehand, but the main man could not guarantee everyone could roll in early.

Jim and I prepared contingency plans. We would delay the start of the movie. I could waste time buy time talking about the fall class lineup, with the food served first rather than after the movie, although people may just have eaten lunch and would probably enjoy the treat an hour and a half later – after the film.

Arriving early to ensure a glitch-free set up (projector, movie, chairs, food), the man in charge of the venue (a local church) was surprised when he noticed the movie to be presented. He had attended the movie’s premiere, knew the main character’s family and would be happy to speak for a few minutes. Now there was no need for me to delay the start of the film.

Following a brief introduction the movie began. Then the nosh materialized and our impromptu speaker made a few comments about his connection to the movie. The musicians appeared before the end of the movie and set up while folks got their food…the audience loved the movie, the munchies and the music.

As veterans of Superstorm Sandy, we have an inkling what is ahead for the thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Those who lost most if not all of their possessions face financial difficulties even if they have flood insurance, which most do not, and will be dislocated for weeks and probably months.

The little hiccups faced in our everyday lives pale compared to the enormity of the challenges Harvey victims now confront.

Sometimes we need life to be placed in perspective.

Here is a link to a New York Times article listing charities accepting donations for Harvey victims, and how to avoid being scammed.