October comes wrapped in leaves and plaid

Monday, October 9, 2017

"October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!"

Rainbow Rowell

I'm a sucker for autumn. The days of mild temperatures and golden light fill me with a sense of contentment nothing as rambunctious as joy but a deep sense of peace. I seem to breathe deeper (well, after the first frost does away with that pesky ragweed that bedevils me through the late summer), and slow my walk, the better to rustle the rust-colored leaves on the ground.

I pull out my sweaters from their totes in closets and shake them out in anticipation of plenty of adventures taken clad exclusively in plaid and wool. I seek out good books and great tea.

Autumn, it seems, encourages a slower pace of life.

In summer we're trying to cram a year's worth of family trips, fairs, festivals and beach time into those elusive weekends and day's off. We're rushing after our fun.

In autumn, the pressure's off. Golden days feel like a gift, and we can take our time exploring.

The harvest is coming in and my farm heritage means I've got my garden produce in and put up for the winter. The apples are picked and the summer projects done (or put on the list to get to next summer).

Autumn feels like "me" time. I'm slowly coming to understand that, with no child in school, I'm not tied to the academic calendar when making plans. I can take vacations when temperatures are mild and crowds are down. That's an amazing concept!

Autumn also finds me back in the kitchen. I love to bake, and to cook savory dishes that simmer on oven tops for hours. When the mercury is sitting at 94 degrees, the idea of turning on a 350-degree oven just loses its appeal. I've begun bookmarking recipes that look fun to try, and haunting Pinterest for holiday baking ideas.

I grab my camera more in autumn, for its golden light makes every bucolic scene glow like a Norman Rockwell painting. With the purchase of new camera this summer, I take every opportunity to explore the settings to best capture the hues of fall.

While autumn seems to encourage savoring its many attributes, we've all learned that, in northwest Iowa, it can be gone in an instant. October snowstorms and gray November are lurking. Perhaps its that mercurial nature of the season that makes it so revered.

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A shout out to 4-H, which just celebrated its annual recognition week.

I'm a fan. I was born a fan. And I'll die a fan.

Growing our young men and women into responsible, compassionate adults takes work, and parents can use all the help they can find. Hooking your children up with a 4-H group is a great way to get them involved in an organization that fosters so many positive attributes.

Thanks go out to our local 4-H staff at the Clay County Extension office. They're wrapping up another great Clay County Fair and looking ahead to a year's worth of programming.

We read about lots of bad things going on in the world. It's nice to celebrate something great, like 4-H!