It’s ‘frost on the pumpkin’ season! Time to prepare…

"Frost on the Pumpkin season"

“Frost on the Pumpkin season” (see link at the bottom!)

Many, many years ago, my very best friend in the world took my children and me camping at a place called ‘Jellystone Park’, in Massachusettes. She had a little, tiny travel trailer, complete with miniature propane stove and heater, which slept six, if you included the available floor space! It was only a week past the end of summer, but you could tell by the quality of the sunlight and the changes in wildlife – both the flora and the fauna – that autumn was about to burst forth.

That first night, we all gathered around a campfire, just like all the other campers, and roasted our hotdogs and marshmellows, whilst “oooh’ing” and “ahhhh’ing” about the vast array of stars showing the path of the Milky Way in the velvety night sky. We all went to bed, replete with our typical campers fare of food, and a peace that can only be had in the realization that God is in His heaven and that, for now at least, all is right with the world. The lot of us slept deeply and well.

Susan was the first to arise the next morning, before the sun even had the chance to begin to blanch the sky and extinguish the stars. I awoke to the scent of “cowboy coffee” as the vapours followed her into the camper when she, ever so quietly, tiptoed in to wake me. She was raising her nephew and, of course, I was always surrounded by children, so we took advantage of the opportunity to just be two adults, having a grown-up conversation, with nothing but the peaceful, near silence, of nature to keep us company.

When I stepped out of the trailer, I was greeted with a fairyland sight. During the night, the temperature had dropped considerably, and apparently quickly, and the last vestiges of last night’s moon shone on a sparkly landcape. The tiniest of ice crystals clung to everything, from the needles on the pine tree behind our temporary home, to the bark of the birch stand, just there to the right…and even the vapour of our exhaled breath twinkled in that soft moonglow, spreading out and disappearing somewhere beyond, like stars winking out.

I stood like a statue, taking in the beauty around me, from the softness of the grass at my feet, still apparent through the crunchy frost, to the glittering moisture released from our noses and mouths and those trees, looking like a colony of fairies had taken flight amongst the branches – and then on upward, to the breathtaking diamonds in the midnight blue sky – some of those diamonds flashing across the heavens in the brilliant display of a meteor shower.

It was breathtaking. Awe inspiring. Humbling.

And freaking cold!!

We built up the fire from the slumbering coals we had banked the night before, and soon a cheerful blaze joined the sun in lighting up our little campsite. As I inched closer to the flames to warm myself, I caught Susan grinning at me.

“What?” I asked her, already responding to her contagious glee with a smile of my own.

“Today’s language lesson,” she replied, her voice vibrating with humour (because we were both aware that I constantly speak in flowers; so what could she have to teach me about language?!).

“Ummm…okay. So what will you be teaching me on this fine, cold morning?”

“Do you know what today is?” she asked, then grinned a bit bigger as I scrunched up my face, trying to read the calendar that I keep in my mind’s eye.

“I got nuthin’,” I replied. “Enlighten me.”

Susan stood up, stretched and gestured expansively around us, then pointed to something on the ground. It was a pumpkin that the campground staff gives every camper to carve as a jack-o-lantern during their autumnal vacations. This, too, glinted with a thin sheen of ice crystals in the dawn light. She turned back to me, the joviality on her face replaced with that peaceful look we all wore the night before.

“Today is the first day of “Frost on the Pumpkin” season…the first sign that winter is just around the corner. It’s time to take a deep breath and prepare for the end of another year.”

This time I not only gazed about me at the fairytale landscape, I also took a moment to close my eyes, breathe deeply through nose and mouth and make a memory. “Frost on the Pumpkin season.” I opened my eyes to find Susan in the same meditative pose. She opened her eyes a moment later and we shared a smile. My best friend – the sister of my heart – and we both breathed the same thing, in an identical instant:

“I can taste winter on my tongue.”

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[† “Cowboy coffee” is made by heating coarse grounds with water in a pot, letting the grounds settle and pouring off the liquid to drink]

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With “Frost on the Pumpkin” season upon us (and as a Pier 1 Affiliate) I thought I’d share a couple of the beautiful decorations for which Pier 1 Imports has specials going on for the next few days.

[see: Affiliate Disclosure]

 

5% Off Regular Priced Purchases This Weekend Only with Code 15OFF or 20% Off When You Apply for the Pier 1 Rewards Credit Card with Code 20FORME, valid 9/29 – 10/2

20% off Wreaths, Wreath Hangers & Garlands at Pier 1 Imports, valid 8/28 – 10/1



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To smile, to cry, to say goodbye… ‘a smile in one eye, a tear in the other’

I read a book last week, perhaps you saw the post. The title quoted the author’s wife, who observed:

“…a smile in one eye, a tear in the other.” – Ralph and Ginger Webster

I understand the concept. Life has a way of coming at you so quickly that you haven’t the time to make a decision what emotion to dwell on.

Hopefully, our emotions are worked separately throughout life. We smile, we cry…and in the end, we say goodbye. It doesn’t always happen that way…sometimes birth and death happen at the same time. If we’re lucky, we survive with only a scar around our hearts and more sweet memories than sad…or bad.

Sometimes, old memories are so overshadowed by a dull ache, that the urge to run away from the pain never really relinquishes its grip; even I, an incurable optimist, succumb at times. You would think that having 10+ children and more than 50 grands would cure my melancholy for once and for all. For the most part, it does.

But now my children have gone on to live their own lives, with kids of their own. I expected this. I told my babies as they were growing up that becoming an adult was just the natural, inexorable way of things – that they wouldn’t always need me right there with them. For many, many years I even told them that one day, when I got old, I planned on running away, because once they had grown and gone, I knew I would be lonesome, what with so much quiet and all.

My last baby is now 25. My one child left is now a man. He went off on his own a lot of years ago, too. I’m happy that all my children are content. I’m sad that they’re gone. And I can’t even call my mom when I’m feeling blue, because I said goodbye to her and my father fifteen years ago.

Can I run away now?

Connecticut held me tight, once I moved away from North Carolina, for even though we lived a hundred miles or so away from real mountains, we had beautiful, high hills..and when the snow covered them in the winter, it was a balm to my heart. But, ahhh…those Smoky Mountains!

I fell in love for the very first time in my life as a young girl, there, in those ancient mountains. Married him, too. But he was a Vietnam Marine Corps veteran and battle fatigue and shell shock…PTSD…took him away from everyone, including me. Only the mountains could hold him, but eventually even they weren’t strong enough to battle a weakened heart, and God called him home. He was barely 50 years old.

My nowadays husband spent his 22 married years in the Smokies, too. And he lost his wife there. She was only 42.

I miss my old mountains. But I’m not sure where I want to run away to any more. If I was all alone, without a husband, I’d probably go back home to the mountains, but I wouldn’t want to go where my husband had his wife. I wouldn’t want to intrude on those memories. And my memories are my own, as well.

Mama and Daddy are buried there, too.

I always love to visit my Smokies, to breathe the clean mountain air and hike from one mountain top to another. All quiet and whatnot. Peaceful.

I still have my memories, whether I turn back time in my mind here in Florida, or if I go home in the flesh to do it.

But I miss home.

Going home sounds like such a good idea, even if I must face having a smile in one eye and a tear in the other.

 

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….young….

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….not so young….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and then.

just.

gone.

On Folded Dreams, Waking Up Dead…because Mama always said, “I wish you’d stop being so morbid.”

If you have read “Folded Dreams – the Beginning”, you will have seen those words. That’s because the protagonist, “The Child”, and “Mother” are loosely based on me and my own mother. I suppose Mama would consider my unusual interest in death and the ‘hereafter’ from such a young and tender age, as being morbid. After all, children should be all about life and the future and giving their parents a hard time, right?

Mama was more full of life than most people I’ve ever known. She was filled to the brim with passion…her smiles and laughter were a joy to behold and could tame the most angry beast that could take up residence in a person’s heart…and her indignant, righteous rages (for 99% of her blow-ups were due to righteous wrath) could still the heart of a murderer and make him run for the nearest church, recognizing a dire and immediate need for sanctuary!

It was not until the year before she passed away that I found out Mama had her own particular spiritual belief system, regardless of what her church taught. Oh, she was a true believer…a true Christian…one of those few, rare souls who actually strove to live the way Christ taught, even in the face of the cruelties, meanness of spirit and spitefulness of mankind. But even though she respected and honoured her denomination, in her heart she also had her own understanding of the deepest mysteries of life.

I would not have known this, except that we had a very short conversation about the…odd things…that I had witnessed in my nearly half century (at the time) of life. In one indirect sentence, she told me that she hadn’t really thought I was as strange as she had led me to believe, all those years. She didn’t say, “I do wish you’d stop being so melodramatic and morbid. Why must you always be so  facetious?” No, during this conversation…one of the last we ever had…she merely clicked her tongue, cocked her head sideways and said, “Stranger things have happened to more people than you could ever know….to people you would never imagine.”

I think that writing the “Folded Dreams…” books (and basing “Mother” on her), and “Waking Up Dead!”, is my way of thanking Mama for finally letting me know that ‘pooh poohing’ my oddities as a child was simply her way of protecting me from a world that wouldn’t understand, and rarely acknowledges that there is more to life than those things that are visible. It made it much easier to let her go, once I knew we held the same faith.

(Thanks, Anne, for nudging my memories…)