Thursday, December 17, 2009

Visions of Fall


Autumn in felted slipper shuffles on,
Muted yet fiery ...
... in the garden
Maples are garish, and surprising leaves
Make sudden fires with sudden crests of flame
Where the sun hits them

-- Vita Sackville-West, 1892-1962

The above excerpt of poetry by Vita Sackville-West is practically the only positive quotation I could find about autumn. I was quite surprised, because I love fall, and it is positively a reason for joy here in Texas, where it is not unheard of to have 100 days of 100+ temperatures in the summer. (Believe me, I've lived through it!)

Most of the classic writers, however, have lived in old England, New England and other places where winters are bleak and summers are actually pleasant. Most of the classic poets write rhapsodies about temperate summer days and describe autumn as a melancholy time of decline and getting older.

But I say fall is getting a bad rap! Although spring is definitely my favorite season, fall is right there behind it. If you don't live up north, summer is a period of dreadful heat, and we here in Dallas are always thrilled and relieved when we feel that first touch of cool air in the autumn. So there need to be more poems about the wonders of fall!

After the long, hot days of summer, autumn is a breath of fresh air.

I love the way the days cool down and you feel that frosty nip in the air for the first time in the fall. I love the old back-to-school fashions of thick tights and red plaid skirts. I love how the leaves decorate the yard with gorgeous colors of brown, red, yellow and orange. I don't even want to rake them up because they look so pretty. I wish my camera could better capture the way the sun shines through the leaves and dapples the grass with golden rays of light.

We were lucky this year to enjoy a lovely, prolonged season of beautiful autumn weather, perfect for playing outside and going birding. In fact, we saw many birds we haven't noticed in years past: yellow-rumped warblers, ruby-crowned kinglets, dark-eyed juncos. We think many of them were stopping by this year to enjoy our beautiful fall weather instead of just flying through on their fall migrations. Sometimes it just goes straight from summer heat to winter cold here in Texas, but we had a real autumn this year, and it was wonderful.

Then we woke up Dec. 2, and it was snowing!

The snow didn't last very long, and it didn't stick around. In fact, it melted in a couple of hours. But it was so pretty while it lasted. Thanks to a very early and very cold storm front, we were treated to a little bit of white.

Even our green chairs got a dusting of snow.

The kids were disappointed that school wasn't canceled.

But here in Texas, you just never know what the weather will bring you. In fact, there's a saying here that if you don't like the current weather, just wait 10 minutes and it will be something else. It's actually fairly common to have temperature swings of 30 to 40 degrees in one day, or even 15 degrees in a matter of minutes if an arctic front comes our way!

I found my "Autumn" quote in the above book "Forest's Robe" by Penhaligon and edited by Sheila Pickles. Penhaligon made several such gorgeous gatherings of poetry and prose in themes such as love, the four seasons, Christmas, weddings, etc. They include beautiful color artwork inside and are even scented with lovely perfumes from Penhaligon's line! After 17 years, my copy still smells pretty!

Unfortunately, winter is just around the corner, and we have already had a string of below-freezing nights that have killed my lush, green summer plants. But yesterday I noticed a little narcissus already blooming in my flowerbed! Poor, confused little baby daffodil.

It's not even officially winter yet, but I guess spring -- my favorite season -- is coming soon!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Giving Thanks

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? We did. Here is a photo of my plate piled with food. It looked so pretty before I dug into it.

This year we stayed home and hosted my husband's parents. They helped make some of the food, and it all turned out really yummy. We had all the traditional fare: roasted turkey with giblet gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, stuffing with more gravy, rolls with butter, and black olives.

And of course we had to end with homemade pumpkin pies! They are the best. I make them with my granny's pie crust recipe and Libby's pumpkin recipe for the filling.

The weather here on Thanksgiving was beautiful, as it usually is on Thanksgiving in Texas. It was mild and just perfect for playing outside. Another Texas Thanksgiving tradition is watching the Dallas Cowboys play on TV. I am not into football and don't mind working in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.

In fact, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It only takes one day of work, the food is great, and then you have delicious leftovers for several days! Cooking a turkey is a lot of effort, so it's not something we do every day. But once a year, it's fun to pull out all the stops and make a grand, old-fashioned meal. (OK, I know the pilgrims didn't really have canned french-fried potatoes and cream of mushroom soup to make their casseroles, but the thought is there.)

And one more thing about Thanksgiving: It reminds us all to remember the people we hold most dear ... our loved ones and our friends.

So thanks to all of you for reading my blog, and don't forget to say "thank you" to all those who are kind to us every day ... your child's teachers, your mail carrier, the school crossing guard, your relatives, your neighbors, your Scout leaders, your friends and all those others who make life a wonderful gift.

Thank you.