Thursday, October 30, 2014


By Peggy Bennitt

Wow! We’re half way through fall, and winter is already nipping at autumn’s heels. Although the cold weather is clearly on its way, Michigan can be beautiful this time of year. All the glorious reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves, as they turn and then leave the trees in a blaze of glory, etch such beauty on the earth; a masterpiece from the Creator’s paintbrush. Man’s hand can never match that workmanship from the Master Painter, but He does allow us to join in His handiwork through inspired paintings, words, and photographs. A recent afternoon found me watching leaves drift and swirl on the chilly wind and slowly settle to the ground.

I remember many years when raking and burning leaves were complimented by the children frolicking in the fallen leaves, raking them up only to raze the huge piles again and again. Jumping or falling into the mass, and spreading the neatly raked leaves indiscriminately over the ground again, was anticipated with great glee by our children.

Time and seasons march on, but as the old adage says, “the more they change, the more they remain the same.” As I watch my husband and grandchildren rake and burn or “blow” our huge yard with Papa’s tractor, and hear the cries of “Papa, look at me!” or “Grammy, watch this,” I thank God for these snapshots in time and the precious memories that His workmanship graces us with.
Later, we retire to our home, and the “Grands” drag out the old costumes from Grammy’s Attic and spend hours mixing and matching costume parts to come up with new and “designer original” creations for this Halloween season. Papa gets into the act as the “Grands” use him as their mannequin for new and dubious get-ups of questionable origins. A feather boa, Woody’s gun, a pirate’s hat, substituted for the cowboy hat discarded on the table, and we have…what do we have? I’d like to say this is creative minds at work… But, hmmmmm, maybe it’s the white socks and flip flops that boggle my mind and leave me speechless.   

Weather changes come quickly to the mid-west, and the goblins and princesses, pumpkins and goodies will be seen in abundance soon. The smell of apple cider, freshly baked donuts, the spicy cinnamon-smell of applesauce and apple butter, all combine with the smell of burning leaves and freshly made hot cocoa to announce the wonder of autumn in Michigan. The nip of frost, the crisp crunch of the leaves beneath booted feet, the chilled wind that smells of snow…yeah, we are truly blessed to live here.

The Mid-West, with its multi-seasonal beauty, is hard to beat for splendor or variety. Each time zone of our great land has a beauty all its own, but Michigan seems to have a little bit of each of the other states wrapped up in…a mitten. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cozy Season to the Rescue

The Protestant Work Ethic has me in a stranglehold. I was reared on the honorable notion that labor is a good thing, labor done while in motion is a better thing, and sweat is the icing on the cake of hard work. The old Sunday School song ‘Work For the Night is Coming’ torqued the noose tight enough that I now feel only guilt if not engaged in some semblance of toil while the sun shines.

Mind you, my efforts are not always productive. I buzz from room to room, front yard to back, anxious to be busy but not always accomplishing that which is beneficial.  Apply the merciless work ethic to one whose nature is fraught with disorganization, lack of focus and a smidgen of sloth and what results? Frenetic dabbling in a variety of projects, substantial completion of very few, but the urgent need to keep moving.

The long daylight hours of spring and summer find me busy tending a perfunctory garden and planting lackluster flowers and hanging thousands of pounds of damp laundry on the line and trying various salad recipes with varying degrees of success.  I wage war with insects and weeds and plan picnics and barbeques and activities for little ones and bigger folks and try to keep the swimming pool clean, and every battle finds me on the losing side.

This possibly makes me one of the few folks in the northern hemisphere grateful when Daylight Savings Time ends, the nights grow long, and the rocking chair beckons by the firelight.  

Guilt is never long absent, but I assuage it by folding clean laundry (some of it no doubt left in baskets since the previous summer,) planning menus, balancing the checkbook or researching toddler art projects, all in the rocking chair by the fire.

The soft dark hours of the cozy season loosen the grip of busy-ness for the sake of being busy. It reminds me that there is always something to do during the day, but God created nighttime for rest and refreshing.

Only a couple more days till we set the clocks back and the shadows are long by midafternoon and swallowed in darkness before supper. Three days should be just enough time for this sloth-battling Protestant to fill the wood box.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Focus of Fall

by Deb Donahue

It seems to me that, in the Midwest at least, fall means something different to city dwellers than it does to country folk.

In town, the emphasis always seems to be about the holidays.  Halloween and Thanksgiving take over our front yards and our porches, sometimes both at the same time.  The stores promote bags of candy for trick or treaters right next to canned pumpkin for those homemade pies the kids are expecting when they come home for dinner.

When you drive out to the country, however, fall is more about the season itself: the gorgeous views, the clean, crisp air, the ripe red apples. Farmers are busy harvesting crops, birds and squirrels scurry to prepare winter homes to survive the cold, and gardeners preserve the last of the produce from their summer of toil and trouble.
I myself welcome a reminder that autumn isn't about what we do during it.  Fall just is.  It is as natural and inevitable as the rise and setting of the sun.  Let's all just take the time to be still and look and listen as it spreads its beautiful season across the land and skies.  Breathe in the whiff of burning leaves.  Rustle through a pile of harvested corn stalks.  Feast your eyes on the colors of the trees as they sway in the wind.

Deb Donahue can also be found at WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Amazon.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ragweed--Friend or Foe?

By Robin Steinweg

Sniff. It’s August, September or October in North America.

And doe, you dote have a code in your dose.

You have an allergy to (sinister music) ragweed. It is the bane of existence for thousands from late July until the first hard frost.

This year ragweed got a late start. But to make up for it, there’s been a bumper crop. My dog comes home from his walk with a dusty yellow head.  We don’t go out during the 10am to 4pm worst pollen-time, but I've still had sneezing, coughing, headache, runny/stuffy nose, itchy ears and roof of mouth.  

I've heard people blame goldenrod. Goldenrod’s only fault is that it blooms at the same time. Its pollen is sticky and can only be transferred by insects, not wind. And there’s not nearly as much of it. Know your friend—take home a vaseful! 

And know your foe: there are two kinds of ragweed.

1.Common Ragweed, or Ambrosia artemisiifolia, is the smaller variety.

There it is to the lower left. 

Raggedy looking. When mowed, it can still send up pollen stalks when only 1-2” tall! Insidious.

2.Greater (or giant) ragweed, Ambrosia trifolia, can grow to 15’!

Leaves have 3-5 lobes. Menacing.
To help you identify your foe, photos by David Beaulieu, landscape expert, are clear:

The pollen under a microscope looks like a medieval instrument of torture.

Amusing Planet’s site has photos of different kinds of pollen, including ragweed.  Yikes! 

Why did the ancient Greeks name it the “nectar of the gods?” Did they know something most of us don’t? It’s hard to believe any good could come from something that causes such misery. But according to eHow contributor Elyse James, ragweed has health benefits. She says it can help regulate the liver, stimulate gastric flow and cleanse the appendix.

People these days mostly control symptoms with shots, pills or both, and hide indoors in filtered air conditioning.
But some say that you can cure symptoms by eating the leaves early in summer, or drinking a tincture made from the stalks. It’s too late for this year, but if you’d like to try it next summer, it’s easy:
-Snip flowering stalks of ragweed.
-Pack snugly into glass jar.

-Pour in 80 or 100-proof vodka to cover stalks.

-Cover jar, label, let it sit 6 weeks. Pour liquid into tincture bottle.

-In mid-July, drink ½ teaspoon per day mid-July through August. Some say to work up to 1 or 2 tsp morning and night.
I’d be pretty cautious about this, in case you react to it. It can act as a laxative… and you won’t know how your body responds at first.

What do you think? Is ragweed friend or foe?


Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Midwesterner in Bath

I ran away in September. I know. It would've been smarter to leave in January when it's ninety-zillion degrees below zero with snow mountains up to the roofline. But hey, when airfare runs a deal, you don't say no.

So off hubby and I went to:

Bath is a relatively small city in southwestern England. The rolling hills nearby are gorgeous. The town itself is in somewhat of a valley. I was surprised that much of the scenery looked a lot like Minnesota or Wisconsin. 

So, what's so special about Bath? Besides it's temperate weather, that is? Jane Austen lived there for awhile, and I happened to go when the annual Jane Austen Festival was taking place. And this year, the were going for a Guinness Book of World Records for the most people dressed in Regency era clothing. . . 

Do you think they broke the record? You better believe it! But even if you visit Bath when there's no festival going on, there are other things to see:
The Pump Room, where you can "take the waters" to cure all your ills.
Or take in some theater where Jane Austen might've sat.

And no visit would be complete without a stroll along the royal crescent.
A view inside the Assembly Rooms where perhaps Jane herself danced.

If you ever get the chance to run off to Bath, no matter the time of year, I highly recommend it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Giggling Girls

Rainbows laugh
In aubergine skies
And slip behind
Silver linings to dry.

Gold leaf-globes glow,
Maples flame red—
A string of  Japanese lanterns
Tossing their heads.

Summer and Autumn
Like giggling girls
Skip side by side
Through the landscape

Sharing the world.

Mary Allen

"Giggling Girls" is from Mary Allen's third book of poetry, "Full Spectrum Living".

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Indian Lake County Park In Autumn

Indian Lake County Park in Autumn
by Lori Lipsky

Dog walkers
stroll on grassy paths

hills roll over age-old soil
and birds fly free

leaves remain for joy of color—
last call, they warn, last call

while blue sky
rains sunshine

and calm waters
still the soul

Read more about Indian Lake

Find more poems like this at Poetry Patio

You may also like Unwanted or Paved with Gold


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