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Posts Tagged ‘seasons’

Around here, the past couple of winters have been really mild. Uncommonly mild, even. Last year, we watched and waited for winter to arrive, and it never did. Not really, anyway. We just kind of shivered our way into spring.

But apparently THIS winter has decided to settle in and give us a good run for our money, at least in terms of temperatures. If I could ask for anything, I would like a little snow to go with the cold. Please and thank you.

This is how our week is shaping up, weather-wise.
forecast
I know, I know. I shouldn’t whine. This is nothing compared with some parts of the country, where minus signs frequently appear in front of temperatures, and polar vortex is NOT a noteworthy weather phenomenon. But here in middle Tennessee, we live on the teetering transitional edge between north and south. And some years, our average lows hover in the mid-30s – not exactly tropical, but not exactly locked in the icy clutches of winter, either.

Part of me is glad I don’t have my greenhouse up and running this year and  part of me wishes I did. Even on a cold, blustery winter day, a little sunshine and a space heater can make it feel like spring. But there is a big price to pay – namely the cost of keeping the inside above freezing every night.

While we start the inevitable countdown to spring (I generally begin marking off the weeks to last frost as soon as Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone), I’m focusing my time and attention on indoor stuff: cleaning, organizing, crafting, cooking and exercising. Maybe not in that order.

Last week’s menu had several new items from January’s Southern Living recipes. This week’s menu has a few more recipes from that issue. I’ve finally embraced the no-knead bread recipe, and we’ve eaten two loaves in as many weeks. I don’t know why it took me so long to give it a shot, but I’m glad I did. I got February’s Southern Living in the mail over the weekend and there are several more good-sounding recipes in it, so my family can rest assured they will get a nice mix of old favorites and new foods over the next several weeks.

I’ve kept up with my daily Bible reading and the 52-week organizing challenge; this week is pantry and spice rack cleanout. Luckily for me, I had done a pantry re-org before Christmas, so I’m coasting for a few days. Next week’s challenge is to set up a home recycling center, which is unnecessary because we have curbside recycling, and they sort everything for us, so if the temperatures aren’t bitterly cold, I hope to use that week to clear out a lot of the clutter in the garage. No promises, though.

I like to think of it as part of the organization challenge, but whatever you call it, I’ve abandoned any pretense at limiting my Fiesta collection. And so I’ve begun the hunt for a new/second hutch for the kitchen…a two-piece style with a breakfront so I can eek out a little more counter space as well as have more display room for my vintage dishes, and lower cabinets and drawers to stow cookbooks and linens and a few less-used cooking and serving pieces. I found a Hoosier-style oak cabinet last weekend at an antique mall, and I loved everything about it except the width (too narrow) and the price (too high.)  I’m holding out hope that stalking Craigslist will eventually yield the piece with exact dimensions and price I’m looking for.

So how is your winter going? Are you like me, and ready for it to be over and done with already? Or are you settling in and enjoying the season?

Happy Monday,
Terry

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A few weeks ago, I started a weekly countdown of six things I am most thankful for, each of which begin with the letters of the word “THANKS”.   So far, I’ve covered:

Today
Health
Abode
Necessities and niceties
Kith and kin

This week, I am thankful for one final thing I’m thankful for, and that is the…

season
I’m thankful for each of the four seasons that distinctively divide our lives each year, each one segueing gracefully to the next just like clockwork.  But I’m especially grateful for this season, when we can take time to reflect on the blessings we enjoy, and to be grateful for them.

The word itself is ancient, rooted in the idea of having a time of year for sowing, followed by the natural ripening and aging process, which creates sweetness and delicious and complex flavors in foods.  Which is probably why it is also intertwined with a second meaning in modern usage; to flavor food with seasonings.  The onset of the cool months are when we welcome the flavors and aromas of many delicious spices and herbs:  cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom play important roles in desserts and other sweet foods, while thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and  peppers are indelibly linked to many savory foods we associate with this time of year.

Solomon was a truly wise man, and in Ecclesiastes he gave us timeless words of advice for putting everything in our lives into proper perspective:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted”

This is the season of harvests and thankfulness and graciousness. I wish it lasted all year ’round, but maybe because it only comes once a year, it makes us appreciate it more.

nearby cotton field in late October

‘Tis the season.  Not for giving gifts and decorating trees and cookies – not yet.  But it is the season for welcoming friends and family, and sharing with them the customs, traditions and foods that have been passed down from past generations to us, and from us to our children.

In this and every season, may we all enjoy the day while it is called today, our own measure of health, our abodes, our many material blessings, and the rich blessings of friends and families.

Happy and blessed thanks-giving,
 
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Where do you fall on fall?

Fall is a defining time of year, more so than the other seasons, I think.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say it may separate the glass-is-half-full crowd from the other half.  We can see it as the end of one season, or the prelude to the next.

Of course, how you view fall is influenced heavily by how you view summer and winter.

Growing up on the western plains and front range of the Colorado Rockies, I associated fall with the approaching onset (or rather, the onslaught) of an interminable period of cold weeks punctuated by snow storms, freezing temperatures and cloudy gray skies. A few snow-cancelled Halloweens in my childhood served to increase my disenchantment with the season. 

I was not a fan of winter in my childhood years, in case you couldn’t tell.  (I never even attempted to ski on snow until I was married and returned to Colorado in the winter with my husband and then only twice.  If I’m going to get around on two sticks, I’d rather do it being pulled behind a boat on a warm lake in the summer.)  Because I dreaded winter, I viewed fall as the harbinger of cold. Instead of appreciating what it had to offer, I spent the autumn season bracing for what would come next.

The southeastern U.S. offers less extreme winter temperatures, and the cold season is relatively short (the big box stores put out seedracks and lawn and garden items as soon as they take down the Christmas displays.)   Years of short southern winters have softened my perspective somewhat.  I’m still not a card-carrying member of winter’s fan club, but I don’t loathe it.

Better still, I no longer view fall as merely the curtain call on summer, but I’ve learned to relax and savor it as a season in its own right, albeit as a period of paradoxes: warm but crisp days all rolled into one, sweaters and flipflops worn simultaneously, and piercing blue skies above a sea of blazing orange (on the trees and on game days.)

We have enjoyed our week of fall break, and the weather has been pitch-perfect for drinking up the last drop of summer’s warmth.  Last night we enjoyed one final sunset.

Today we arose early to welcome the sunrise and prepare to head home.   It’s time to turn the page and enjoy the pageantry of fall; the scenery will change daily until the last of the leaves are gone.  The daily temperatures are beginning to slowly drift downward, and as they do, our tastebuds begin warming up to the savory flavors of hearty foods once again.

I still can’t say I look forward to winter, but I have come to accept and even welcome fall for what it is, instead of constantly peeking past it at what lies beyond. All things considered, I’d say my glass is more than half full; how about yours?

Happy fall to one and all,

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It’s time

The Fantasticks musical debuted in 1960, three years before I made my own debut into this world. But the opening song, “Try to Remember” was a piece of music I had to learn for something in my childhood and the song has always stuck with me.

“Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow…”

It seemed fitting this plaintive, sentimental song came to mind as I looked through our old photos for some fall images to decorate the mantel last week.  It’s hard to believe these photos were taken so many Septembers ago but they were.  Eleven years ago, swimmer girl was a cute kindergartener and middle son was just a boy and his dogs, aptly named Duke and Daisy.  Just a few years before that, oldest son was a proud middle school football player back in Oklahoma.

Whether it’s just the inevitable progression of the season, or Hurricane Irene pushing around the pressure systems, the first hint of cool breezes hovers just under the radiating heat of July and August.  It’s time.

It is time to do a few things.

Things like…

  • Change the flag to show the world our orange on September 12 (just not before 9/11.)
  • Update the mantel (watch for photos this week…)
  • Plan our fall break getaway (I am SO looking forward to heading somewhere warm and southern and sunny for a week with swimmer girl and a group of friends!)
  • Purchase some spring bulbs to plant in the next few weeks.
  • Finish up the canning and preserving season (figs and tomatoes are almost done; pears and roasting peppers are next.)

    Yes, it’s still plenty warm — downright hot most days. Indian summer will not put in appearance for a while, but it’s time to do these things. Because as sure as I breathe, autumn is on its way. The days are getting shorter and everywhere I turn, there’s a whisper on the wind, letting me know that fall is not afar off.
    We’ve now experienced a full season – the entire summer – in our new home. I have loved every minute of it, even the heat.  And now when I stand at my kitchen sink in the evenings, the western sky hints at what is to come. If I close my eyes, I can envision the cool rainy days that so often follow the tropical storms and hurricanes. Mornings will soon be wrapped in a cool fog.  Impossibly blue fall skies will be punctuated by days of gray and the cold rains of late fall and early winter. If our summer is any indication of Mother Nature’s temperament, winter is already isn’t likely to wait demurely in the wings this year.

    For once, instead of dreading the approaching colder weather, I can hardly wait. I look at our home and I already see it bedecked with the trappings of the holidays. It is a house meant for gathering family and friends, and it’s been heartwarming to see family and friends gathering together frequently here.  Baking bread, bubbling soups and stews and hearty meals and fellowship await. They will buoy and sustain us through the gray months of winter.

    But for now, it is time to feel the warmth of summer tamed by the faintest hint of fall breeze, and all that comes with it. Welcome, fall and all it holds in store for family, friends and football.

    Happy Monday,

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    You can’t always get what you want…

    The ‘Stones were in my head this morning for some reason.  I guess the unusually cool morning temperatures brought crisp fall weather to mind.  And the other day, I was sweltering away watering plants and daydreaming about sunny October afternoons in Knoxville, watching the Vols play football.  Something about that time of year, when the sun warms your face, but there’s a hint of coolness that whispers of the season to come…it’s fleeting but special.  If I close my eyes, I can almost feel it.

    In winter, I dream of spring days when we can open the windows.  When spring days bounce from cold to warm and back, I yearn for the unrelenting heat of summer.  And in summer, I wish for cool, crisp fall days.

    And…that’s as far as my wish list goes.  I never hope, long, dream or wish for winter.  Okay, maybe I occasionally cross my fingers and wish for one “good” snow fall to blanket everything. But that’s all.  In my dream world, Christmas is sunny and 60 degrees; January and February fly past in the blink of an eye.  Once the tree is down and the ornaments are up in storage, I’m thumbing through seed and plant catalogs and counting down the days until spring.  (I may be considered a “winter” person because of my hair and skin tone, but that’s the ONLY part of me that embraces winter.)

    Today is another round in the age-old contest of woman vs. weeds.  I can win the occasional battle, but the weeds will win the war. Nature bats last.  I know these are immutable truths, but I gird up and go forth nonetheless.

    This week’s menu got flipped and flopped around due to the everlasting swim meet on Tuesday.  (We eeked out a win, though – go Comets!!!!)

    We’re finally having the manicotti tonight.  Last night was pecan-crusted salmon with fried green tomatoes, fresh melon and ranch noodles.  The salmon recipe definitely has potential.  I followed someone’s advice and reduced the honey, so the butter-dijon-honey ratio was about 1:1:1.  And I reduced the breadcrumbs to 1/4 cup.  Now if I can just remember to not overcook the salmon next time…) 

    I’m also going to try making my friend Jennifer’s scrumptious honeybun cake recipe this weekend.  If mine tastes half as good as hers, I’ll be running nonstop next week to burn off the calories from my gluttony.   If we’re up and around early tomorrow morning, I’m hoping to hit the new ‘boro farmers market on the square, and then maybe venture down to the Readyville Mill to pick up some grits.

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    A long trip on the longest day of 2010

    Today we made the trip home from central Kansas, heading out a little before 9 a.m. there and pulling in our driveway 753 miles and almost precisely 12 hours later.  It’s a long drive, but it was blissfully uneventful: no near misses, no breakdowns, no wrong turns, and no awkward conversations with state troopers in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky or Tennessee.   That spells success in my book.

    The weather systems that beset us all weekend got in a final parting shot before we hit the Missouri border, but after that it was dry and muggy and just really loooong.  Or maybe it seemed long because the visit was too short. Yeah, we’ll go with that.

    It was such a whirlwind weekend that it wasn’t until late last night I even realized I had failed to remember it was Father’s Day and have a gift and card for my husband or my dad.  Ooops!!!  Hopefully the other festivities eclipsed it in their minds too, but I really hope they both know they are two very special men in my life, and I am blessed to have been sheltered and protected, loved and nurtured by each of them.  They’ve both gone toe-to-toe with me when it was necessary, but they’ve also had my back more times than I know, and they never gave up on me even when I’ve been nearly impossible.  (It’s hard to imagine, I know ;o)  But seriously, I just thank God that He thought enough of me to give me these two men as my life anchors.  I love you both more than words can say and I hope your Father’s Day was terrific even if we didn’t have a traditional celebration in your honor.

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