A day for reflection.

photo-1My ex-husband and I first met Jim and Joe (not their real names) at least twenty-five years ago.  Happily, they have continued to include me in their lives by inviting me to their parties and life celebrations.

Very few of the people I met through or with D have kept me on their social lists.  That includes family.  I have come to understand it isn’t that most of them are cold or uncaring; they simply don’t know how to be inclusive in situations that they fear (real or imagined) may get a little “sticky.”  My fiery temper during our separation and divorce didn’t help.

But this post is not about me, it’s about the remarkable and always inclusive Jim and Joe.

Since gay marriage is still not legal in North Carolina, J and J went to New York a while back and tied the knot after almost thirty-five years together.  Legal or not, they’ve been married all those years.  They never needed a piece of paper for those of us who have loved them and recognized their commitment to each other.  Yet I find myself feeling joyful on their behalf now that they have taken this big step which wasn’t available to them before.

I was not surprised when I received this most recent invitation from J and J.  I had attended their “twenty-five-years-together anniversary.”  But I felt a warm glow when I saw the announcement that they had wed.  And I felt extraordinarily happy that I was considered one of many friends with whom they wanted to share their good news.

At three o’clock on a beautiful autumn day, surrounded by family and friends, J and J had a ceremony on the front steps of their lovely home.  We friends gathered on the lawn in front and celebrated with them.  There were chairs for those who can no longer stand.  A very eloquent gentleman made comments and then J and J reconfirmed their vows of commitment, each in his own words.  We cheered!

As I drove home, I noticed dark clouds gathering on the horizon and the wind was tossing yellow leaves into a whirling dervish dance.  As I drove through one leafy frenzy after another and another, I thought of the many frantic dances my friends Jim and Joe have had to perform as they were growing up feeling different.  As they met with intolerance at every turn.  As they quietly accepted that they had none of the rights that other committed couples shared. I wondered if they did the same dance over and over for each situation they encountered, or did they vary the steps sometimes.

I keep coming back to the last statement “the eloquent gentleman” made about J and J.  He said, “Jim and Joe have taught us all how to live our lives.”  As I shout “Amen” to that, I realize the answer to my pondering in the last paragraph.  Sometimes these wonderful human beings danced a waltz.  Some days they did the twist.  There must have been days when the hokie pokie seemed appropriate.

Now that I think about it, I doubt their dances were ever frenzied.  And the type of dance is irrelevant.  Whatever the dance, they did it together and with purpose.

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Autumn.

Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns. ~ George Eliot

Fall is officially here.  The calendar says so.  Here in the flat land of NC the signs are present; a few of them are.  The trees have not started to change yet but the humidity has dropped.  That’s a great relief.  We were expecting 86 degrees today.  That’s still pretty hot for me.  Ahhhh, but the nights are cool.  And early morning is cool enough for a walk around the neighborhood.  What a treat after walking the air-conditioned indoor track for the past two months.

I dug out the autumn flags this afternoon.  I like this one.  I like the idea of Ms. Squirrel storing acorns and nuts in her little home.  I hope she finds enough to make it through the winter.  The  squirrel in this picture reminds me of Miss Suzy the squirrel.  I wonder how many times I read Miss Suzy to my baby girls.

Oh I love to cook, I love to bake, I think I’ll make an acorn cake.

We loved the idea of Miss Suzy, cozy in her wee tree house, baking acorn cakes.  I have to admit, though, that I tasted acorns several times when I was a child.  They were horribly bitter.  Now that I’m older I can’t help thinking how appropriate it is for there to be some nuts that humans don’t like.  It’s nice to know that provision is made for the critters.

In addition to the flags, I also attached my leaf wreath to the front door in honor of this lovely new season.

I haven’t done any research but I often wonder which season is most often chosen as a favorite.  I think it’s spring but I don’t know that.  I like spring, too, but for me it can’t compare to fall.

I’ve thought a great deal about why autumn is so special for me.  When I was a school girl it meant I could go back to school.  I loved school.  And I suspect my love of going back also had to do with escaping a less-than-happy family life.

As a young mother hen I felt as if I were doing a better job of nesting my chickies in the fall.  After a summer of playing outdoors, riding bikes, skating, etc., I had them back under my wing.  That always felt good to me.  And since I loved going back to school, I assumed they did, too.  I think they did.

My ex-husband’s grandmother loved the fall as much as I do.  It was her favorite.  We had that in common; that and our great love for our D.        D  and I were married in October.  He was also fond of that time of year.  Well, he said he was.  I guess it’s true.  We went to the mountains for our honeymoon.  Peak weekend for leaf color.  Beautiful.  It’s hard to realize that it’s been thirty-five years since we tied that knot.  I guess I will always feel sad that the knot loosened and then frayed.  But it is so.

So…the days grow shorter.  The sky gets bluer.  Mums bloom.  Trees have a final spectacular show before beginning their long nap.  The air gets cleaner and crisper.  And I get happier, more relaxed, less stressed.

I’m happy to be nesting again now that I have Lulu.  Lulu’s content too.  I can tell by her calm purring as she lies next to me on the couch. Life is good.

Do you have a favorite season?

Ya gotta love it…

I’m waiting for the rain to take a little break so I can walk.  It rained most of the night and everything is saturated.  I can see that today’s walk will be a different kind of wonderful than yesterday’s.  Yesterday was the perfect day for walking.  I took pictures of everything I saw.  Well, almost.  Like this leaf.  And ya gotta love it…when a single leaf on the ground is as awesome as its host, laden with thousands of fiery works of art.

…when the sky is this blue and you have a totally green tree alongside a changing one in the neighbor’s yard two doors down.  And you accidentally snap the leaf in your hand along with the trees and it kinda sorta looks like you might have done it on purpose. 🙂 

…when garbage collection is done in the name of the Holy Trinity.  This single collection bin is a fairly tasteful almost navy blue.  All the rest are an almost neon blue.  When I walk on Wednesday mornings I always look wistfully at this one and wish I could have one like it.  Now isn’t that a waste of a wish!

…when the neighbors leave their cute little ghosties in the tree until it’s time to put up Christmas lights.  I think that’s what I remember from last year.  It leaves me wondering if they’re procrastinators or early birds.  Not that it matters.  Even though the houses in the neighborhood have a boring similarity, the people who reside within are as dissimilar and interesting as their backgrounds and experiences allow them to be.  Wonderful diversity here. 

…when you live in an area where these beautiful little pansy faces will continue to bloom throughout the winter.  Sometimes when it snows (rarely) Persistent Pansy stands her ground and we humans are grateful for her persistence.  Hope in the cold.  Something we could all use on occasion.

…when half the leaves on the tree are golden and half are their original youthful green and you can see an aqua sky through the branches.  Eye candy for sure.  I keep bits of “eye candy” all over my house.  Some folks think it’s superfluous but for me it’s essential, as vital as feeding my body.

…when a picket fence casts sunshine and shadows in front of you as you walk.  I grew up in a time when a picket fence was one of those iconic symbols of the longed for American dream.  Upward mobility.  Anyone can make it if he/she works hard enough.  I’m proud of the many Americans who are Occupying Wall Street or wherever in an attempt to recapture that dream.  And yes, I do think that’s what it’s all about.

…when most of the county has pale yellow nondescript fire hydrants and you have newly painted fire-engine red ones.  We didn’t have hydrants in the country where I grew up but when I went to town, they had red ones.  They’re supposed to be red.  Makes me wish I had a dog.

And finally, ya gotta love it…when a flat hot southern neighborhood in the US can claim a name like Glenfinnan.  I’ve always loved the sound of it so I looked it up, of course.  Click the link if you want to know what the real Glenfinnan in Scotland looks like.  It’s stunningly beautiful.  Now when I think or say the word I will have a little mental glimpse of heaven.  And life is good!

Note to Lady E:  Here’s my take on nine things I love.

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” ~ Mister Rogers

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and my neighbors are displaying their support with these pretty pink bows on their mailboxes.  They give the neighborhood quite a festive look, belying the seriousness of their intent.  About one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.  The USA and the UK have the highest incidence of cases with Australia and New Zealand close behind.   Men also get breast cancer but in very small numbers compared to women, thus its status as a woman’s disease.  I didn’t mean to start this post with such a downer but I do think it’s important and deserves our attention.

I noticed as I walked today that it’s a perfect and perfectly beautiful fall day.  There are still flowers blooming in some neighbors’ yards.  This wonderful pink blossom matches the bows well, don’t you think?  This is a vine that twines around a mailbox and is still rife with blooms.  I think it’s a clematis but there are many varieties and I couldn’t find one enough like this one to make an identification.  And now I’m thinking that I don’t really care what it is as long as it continues to flourish on my neighbor’s mailbox for me and other passers-by to enjoy.  I will miss it when the first freeze nips it.

I’m starting to see a little change of color in the leaves now.  For the most part it’s a few leaves here and there and nothing to write home about, but I did spot one tree that has a fairly significant amount of color.  It’s a few doors down from my house so I can keep my eye on it as it achieves its full depth of crimson.  And that’s assuming that neither rain nor wind will wipe it out before it reaches opus status.  We never know what Mother Nature has in mind.

I’m happy to say that my walking has increased as the local temperatures have decreased.  I don’t like to whine about my health and I try not to, so I will simply say that I haven’t been feeling well for several weeks.  My walking is working wonders and I’m starting to feel better.  When I don’t feel well physically I don’t feel well emotionally.  It’s one of those “chicken or egg” puzzles.  I believe strongly that the two are connected/interdependent.  But just in case, I have an appointment with a medical doctor next week.  I’m hoping she can help me to rule out some things and maybe get to the bottom of some others.  Perhaps there will be no need to speak of it again.  That’s the outcome I expect.

I love walking the neighborhood and seeing the seasonal decorations my neighbors have displayed.  It puts me in the mood to get out my Halloween “stuff” and get in the spirit.  (Not a bad pun, huh?)  I have already put my spooky, or not so spooky, garden banners out.  I always enjoy this one.  It reminds me not to take myself too seriously.