Tag Archives: Seasons

Thanksgiving 2017

Suddenly the weather’s turned blustery and cold

Leaves that were just green say ‘Gosh, I feel old’!

They shrivel up, blow and slowly flutter –

They fall here and there, they clog up the gutter.

 

Thanksgiving is hours away – defrost the turkey,

Pull out the Pilgrims, traditional and quirky.

Gather the far-flung family, yes, even those who can be rather jerky.

 

Circle them ‘round though this year’s been full of chaos, fear and discord

(At least we know no one should claim to be bored)

This is the best time to put some thought into gratitude –

Genuine thankfulness – enough with the platitudes!

 

There certainly is a long list of recent strife

And maybe Aunt Sarah shouldn’t talk to Uncle Bob when he has the carving knife

But now is the moment we should take to say thanks for the good in our life.

 

A Hearty and Heartfelt Wish for a Plentiful and Happy Thanksgiving to All!!

 

© 2017 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

September Skies

I think, somewhere along the way through adulthood, I’d stopped noticing the sky. Oh, I’d returned to an awareness of nature, realizing on an instinctive level that it would calm the storm of my life. Though other than to look for threatening weather or waning daylight, I really didn’t look up.

 

But those planes made us all look up and notice. Even far from the actual places of destruction. Made us notice the perfect blue, the picturesque white clouds and the ominous absence of planes on that day. Made us scan those September blue skies in the days and weeks after, looking and wondering.

 

I’ve continued to notice the beauty of the sky. Even as we contemplate the potential of other dastardly deeds – human and climate based. My eyes are often on the clouds.

I am aware of the light. How it is different in each season. And different in other parts of the world. And how it changes in September when the angle of the sun announces the coming of a new season.

 

I think about how September is full of ghosts for me. Family birthdays that now mark the years since we had the celebrant here with us. Anniversaries that no longer accumulate to anything. (Though a couple that still do.) And all those ghosts who didn’t know the turn their day would take on that lovely morning.

 

I would think of what we have collectively learned – about the nature of disaster. About human nature. But, I’m not certain those lessons were universal or lasting for many.

 

United we stand? I hold out hope as I absorb the September sunlight.

 

© 2017 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Perfect Summer Day

“The worst summer ever.”

 

This was the topic one day last week in the lunchroom at work. It has rained nearly every day for what seems like forever. (I’m sorry to anyone in California reading this, we would gladly send you a couple of our rain storms if we only could.) According to our local weather geeks, this has been the least sunny June for years, probably decades if I could only remember the specific statistic.

 

Last June actually had more rainfall, but who can remember the difference of a few small fractions of an inch for a whole year?

 

If I were a Supreme Court Justice, I would have had to write the dissenting opinion on the state of this summer. Since I have this blog outlet, I am writing the dissent. (As a legal geek, I am devouring all the press about the decisions that are being handed down.)

 

It helps that, in my opinion, yesterday was the perfect summer day. The temperature was in the mid-70s, there was sun all day, and a light breeze. Ah, bliss. Warm enough for capris and sandals, not too warm to do some weeding in the middle of the afternoon. It would have been the perfect day to have a leisurely lunch on the patio at the restaurant were my son works, but they were light on customers so he actually got to leave work a bit early to enjoy the afternoon.

 

We seem to focus in on the perfect summer day, it doesn’t seem to be as important in winter, spring or fall. Summer is our ideal, the elusive perfect concoction of nice weather and enjoyable activities.

A tiger lily bloom starting its only day of existence

A tiger lily bloom starting its only day of existence

But perfect for one person is too something for someone else. And if every day were at or near perfection, quite soon we would cease to notice at all. It is the scarcity of the perfect summer day that is part of what makes it perfect.

 

Sometimes we miss these wonderful weather moments due to obligations, like work – where as an office worker I am insulated from nature by conditioned air and fluorescent lighting, my back to the window. Sometimes we can enjoy them peripherally, such as with open windows while we complete a long undone task. (I finally finished rehanging the pictures in my living room yesterday, only 4 years after painting the room.)

 

Sometimes we miss them simply through being oblivious. The sameness of our routine – get up, go to work, check things off the to-do list, repeat – makes us forget to note the state of nature around us.

 

The green, growing things are thriving in our cooler, rainy weather pattern. If we take the time to note the way that they are thriving, it might bring a smile.

 

Summer is fleeting. It seemed limitless as a child, and in the glow of memory those recalled days are strung out, one more perfect than the next. Perfect summer days as an adult take more effort, but sometimes it is just the effort to push aside all the obligations and see the trees in the forest.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Last Vestiges

An article in the Sunday paper talked about how to properly put away your snow blower until next season.  It liberally refers to best practices during the last use of the season.  Stepping out to retrieve the paper from the end of the driveway this morning, I passed what I hope were the last vestiges of snow from the winter just completed.  (I feel safe saying winter is done since we have already entered meteorological spring and are mere days from astronomical spring.)

 

Winter weather, however, may not be done with us yet.

 

How does one know then that the current use of the snow blower will be the last of the season, in order to follow the directions provided in the article?  How do I know that those tiny patches of snowy ice are the last, at least for months to come?  (Looking out now with the thought of capturing them to illustrate this post, I see that I am too late and they are gone.)

 

odd post-snow remnants, picture taken by a friend

odd post-snow remnants, picture taken by a friend

We often talk in terms of end of this and last of that, but unless the deadline is self-imposed, calendar based, or otherwise easily limited and under our control how do we know it is a last of something?  This question comes to mind when I pass the bookshelf in my living room where the last book that my mom was reading sits.  The clean tissue that she had hastily or lazily pressed between its pages to mark her progress has been replaced by a book mark from one of her favorite independent bookstores.  It took me a couple of years to even make that change, but it never occurred to me not to mark the spot.

 

That last book, Tobias Wolff’s Old School, isn’t something that I have any interest in reading, at least not currently.  It sits on the shelf as a dust catcher between books that I have read and deemed worthy of keeping.  It represents all of the things that mom was still planning on doing, learning, accomplishing and experiencing.  There were stacks of magazines that were folded open to articles that she was in the midst of reading, other stacks of notes she had taken to be used in a future project, all signs of her planned continuation of intellectual development.  Despite cancer’s effect on her physical self, she would not have proclaimed Old School as the last book she would read until circumstances made that decision.

 

Last, as in previous, makes sense and I do truly hope that the last snowfall we experienced days ago in my region will be the last for months to come.  But I won’t bet on it or plan in it.  There are too many variables out of human control.  That book makes me consider my use of the word last in many instances.  How do I know?

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Late Winter Trance

It does no good to tell ourselves that this winter has been relatively kind to us in comparison to last winter’s endless freezes and snow.  It is the physical discomfort of the here and now that wears us down.  And, please may it be so, will be easily forgotten once green things start to grow again.  (Hence why women go on to have more babies…)

 

Of course, kinder is relative and based on regions, I do believe that Boston is having a rougher winter, at least in terms of snowfall.  I have friends there and they show plenty of pictures of the snow excess on Facebook.  The snow machine up in the clouds in that area seems to be stuck on over-produce.  I know that snow blankets can feed off themselves to keep temperatures down, but does snow attract more snow?  It certainly seems to this year in that area.

 

We have an ageing snow blanket in my region.  A dusting here and there since our Super Bowl blizzard.  Which means that the snow is wind scoured and compacting as it loses the moisture it originally had.  And it is getting dirtier and cluttered with the flotsam and jetsam of suburban life.  The cars are all salt-crusted, which masks their normal hues.  Yuck.

 

My eyes are so tired of the color scheme – white, off white, dirty white, beige, and filthy black.  It seems to be putting my creative mind into a narrow rut of thought which is as difficult to break as Boston’s rhythm of snow storms.

 

public domain image - what I wish I saw out my window

public domain image – what I wish I saw out my window

I think of things that I could do to help my creativity to spark, but then there is that moment that I can’t seem to get past.  The one when I realize that I will have to bundle up, will have to slog through snow piles, icy spots, or slush to get where I want to go.  Ugh.  My couch, a mug of tea and a book, or Netflix, or some internet surfing will do for entertainment.  It is my late winter trance.  At least I have finally caught up with all 4 previous seasons of Downton Abbey.  And I found a new show on Netflix, Rehab Addict, that gave me some ideas for some updates on my house, when the weather gets better.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

“There is the Christmas we believe we should have and there is the Christmas that we have.”

~Christopher Borrelli (Chicago Tribune)

 

I am close to 2 people who are self-avowed Scrooges.  I don’t believe it because I know both to be warm-hearted and giving people.  One just attended a Christmas chorale event with me in early December and was farther along in putting up festive decorations at her house than I was.  (I rectified that this weekend.)  So what makes each express such Bah Humbug?

 

How much of our Christmas is expectation, forced frivolity?

 

Yet another friend lamented the added pressure of her family’s Elf on the Shelf that has to do something every day.  Her husband just backs away saying he isn’t creative that way.  She would be open to the whimsy of the season, I think, if not for the outside pressure.  I think this is true for each of these people.

 

Sure I am subject to those ‘if only’ thoughts of amazing, movie worthy Christmas experiences (just about any experiences).  But then again, I have learned to find joy in many ways and many places.  I loved starting my Christmas season with that chorale concert.  And attending my work Christmas party this past Friday.  I am slowly taking out my decorations and reminiscing over many of them.

 

public domain image

public domain image

I’ve sat down to write my Christmas poem that goes into the cards that I send out, addressing a few each day.  I do lament that I no longer have the time to devote to the Christmas baking of years past.  I’ve occasionally tuned in to the local radio station that plays all Christmas music all month, but haven’t pulled out my own CD collection yet.

 

Christmas is about savoring and sharing joy.  I hope that whatever that means for you, you are able to get into the Christmas Spirit this season.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Holiday Hoopla

Which is your favorite holiday?  Today is a holiday that has seen a tremendous shift in meaning since it originated, and the coming months will bring other huge holidays that tend to be high on the list of favorites.  Holidays are a great time to lift ourselves from our routine, celebrate family and friends, and connect with the past. And usually participate in the economy.

 

I haven’t put out a single decoration this year, though I have a sizable collection of Halloween dust catchers which have accumulated over the years of raising my boys.  There are the tall, slim figurines that I bought in a kit and painted myself.  And a hollowed out gourd, made into a ghost, that I bought on an afternoon spent in a quaint town with my mom and sister.  The scarecrow made from a softball by a fellow mom who was trying to impress the other homeroom moms with her creativity.  And plenty of other things, most of which have a memory or two attached.

 

public domain image

public domain image

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving.  Because it is quieter and except for food hard to exploit with merchandise.  Even though my dad and I would regularly lament that it was difficult to find Thanksgiving decorations.  Now I have his and mine – mostly Pilgrim and turkey themed.  I love that the focus is around family and friends gathering to share a meal and think about gratitude.  (We won’t think about the fact that shopping for Christmas is encroaching upon this more serene holiday.)

 

I know plenty of people whose favorite holiday is this feast of Trick or Treat.  I know others who refuse to partake in the fun for religious reasons.  (To them I’d like to point out that Halloween is a contraction for All Hollow’s Eve, which is the precursor for All Saint’s Day November 1st – and a day for religious observance.  And was timed to counter a pagan ritual observing harvest and the coming of winter.  The Monsignor at my old church used to hold a great Halloween party for the families.)

 

We need these holidays to brighten up our days as the natural light grows scarcer this time of year.  Colorful décor, strings of lights, cheerful greetings for those known and not known – may all of our next few months be enjoyable – full of food, baubles and hoopla.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Wish Lists

Wasn’t it just amazingly easy to come up with lists of wants when you were younger?  Unless made shy by being asked suddenly by a rarely met aunt or uncle, I remember being able to rattle off all sorts of things that I would love to have as my own.  I’m not sure when it got harder.

 

It isn’t like I don’t want or need anything.  And it certainly isn’t that I don’t like to get presents.  But ask me for suggestions and my brain says, ‘uhhh – can I get back to you on that?’.  So I started to keep a running list.  Then my book list branched into a list of its own.

 

Maybe I could have a library like this?

Maybe I could have a library like this?

(And still I was hard pressed to keep myself on track and focus on books already on the list when I found myself at a library book sale recently.  I did end up with some excellent choices, I think.)

 

Anyway, I know that I am not alone in this malady; whether it is one of memory or something other, is a question to discuss with friends over tea.  My friends and I have all gotten to a stage when we are not as quick to acquire – we have pretty much already feathered our nests.  But that doesn’t mean that we might not like to add to a collection or two, or perhaps have a treat or get an item to support a new or old hobby.

 

And there is a pleasure in gift giving that we might have forgotten along the way – giving and receiving.  It has nothing to do with standing in line at odd hours for the latest craze, in a crush of bargain hunters.  It has to do with thinking about that person for whom you are shopping, or remembering the person who gave you a specific treasure.

 

Well, I am gearing up to ask my family for suggestions, so I thought I should dust off my list.  Only I have lost the darn thing.  Now what was on it?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Season’s Change

Summer is over if you count the season as lasting between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Or we still have a handful of days left if you take into account these days before the first day of autumn.  The leaves on the trees are still green, but clearly worn.  Some are tinged with other colors after hanging onto branches for quite a few months.

 

Walking at the back of the nearby park with the dog recently, I got a strong whiff of the sharp smell of fall.  A bit of pungent decay, once growing things ready to enrich the soil for something future to grow.

 

I’ve written a couple of times over the past few months about summer, this season that most causes us to think of leisure.  One that we are more likely to feel concern about wasting than the other three.  (Assuming that we live in a place that has seasons, which I do.)

DSC03501

How did I do in my effort to enjoy moments of summer?  I mentioned choosing the patio option as often as possible in my early summer post.  I’m afraid that I didn’t meet up with family and friends all that often, but I can say that I logged a bit of time on decks and patios.  Nor did I manage to get to more than one outdoor concert.

 

I took stock again early last month in my effort not to let summer pass unnoticed.  I can add the taste of our own tomatoes to the list I made in that post.  They have a heady flavor, but unfortunately thick skins.  And I experienced mosquito bites too, darn it.

 

This summer wasn’t hot enough for a lot of people, but it was just about right to my thinking.  (I’m sure they at least appreciate the more reasonable utility bills from the moderate summer heat.)

 

Now plenty of people are already bemoaning the coming of winter.  But, please, let’s give fall its due first.  The weather will continue to be pleasant for weeks to come and then turn crisp.  While the plants all settle into a dormant state.

 

I’ve lived most of my life in regions that experience all four seasons.  I most enjoy spring and fall, I see benefit in summer, and I endure and accept winter for the sake of the other seasons.

 

While I think about how I met my own summer expectations and where I fell short, I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t just lament but decide what I might do better.  How about you, did your summer turn out how you expected?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

How Much ‘Summer’ in Summer?

August is upon us and the back-to-school ads have started to appear.  Gardens are about to produce tomatoes and cucumbers galore.  Leaves on trees are looking a bit tired and worn here and there after shining in their green spectrum from early pale to later deep green.  We still have a couple more months to go before the plants all go dormant for the cooler months.

 

I haven’t taken a vacation, or even devoted a whole day to summer activities, but I have vicariously enjoyed those of friends and family on Facebook and in-person telling.  And I have thought about what constitutes a summer moment so that I don’t miss them when they occur.  In early June, I wrote this piece about summer and the importance of noting this season.

 

Summer isn’t just a season, it is an idea – a representation of things to strive for like relaxation and laughter with friends and family.  It is nostalgia in a different form than what the holiday season brings forth.  The sound of children laughing in early evening brings me back to those moments in long ago yards playing tag or chasing fireflies with a group of other kids.  The joy of still being up and out in the dark when we would normally have been tucked into bed.

 

Enjoying the idea of summer in adulthood takes effort, a deliberateness that wasn’t necessary in childhood.  First we have to be conscious that this effort is even required.  Summer was spontaneous in our younger years and we might expect this to continue, we might feel discontent when it does not.

 

For several years in the transition from child to adult, I didn’t think about summer much at all.  Perhaps because I was busy figuring out what being an adult meant for me.  Perhaps because I was doing this figuring out in California, where the seasons are subtle and mostly all have the feel of summer.  It wasn’t until my children were old enough to have a summer break in school, and summers had the same rhythm they had in my childhood that I started to think about what makes summer.

 

Then I was divorced with two boys and a full time job and I had to make sure they had a summer while basically foregoing one for myself.  Or so I thought because I thought of summer as long stretches of unscheduled time to explore and enjoy.

DSC03845

Now summer comes in moments, sips, or bursts.  And I enjoy them.

  • Time on a patio with family or friends
  • The hummingbird that visits the Rose of Sharon in the corner of my yard
  • Watching the tomato plants grow and tomatoes form
  • The firefly that hovered in front of the dog and I on a late evening walk
  • The dragonfly that reluctantly posed for this picture
  • The little boy gleefully whizzing by on his bike
  • The sound of lawn mowers while I still laze in bed on a weekend
  • Thunderstorms clearing the humidity from the air

 

How much summer is in your summer so far?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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