30 December 2011

The Last Top Five Friday of 2011: Learning to Set Goals

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. 
~ Victor Frankl

This weekend, we will all make resolutions.  And we will keep them for about a week; two if we’re strong; all year if you’re Mother Teresa.   As I mentioned on Tuesday, I  set out to start 2012 out differently.  This time, I would make goals and by gosh, by golly, I was going to keep them and realize them!  But where to begin?  And how to  make it stick this time?

A wise man once said that you should surround yourself with people smarter than yourself so that you can learn from them.  So I did what I do best ~ read what other, smarter and more successful goal-setters were saying on the subject.

Some articles were about as helpful as a raincoat in Death Valley.  Others were too clichéd.  And some knocked my pen top off.  Today, I bring you the top five articles I found helpful in setting my 2012 goals.

I have mentioned Christine Valters Paintner here and here before.  She is an amazing person with a big heart, a gifted writer, and an affirming mentor.  In Give me a Word, she encourages us to do some soul searching and come up with a word for the year. 

I’ve been choosing a word to describe how I want my year to be for awhile now and was excited to learn that someone else does this too!  I’m still pondering and meditating on what my word for 2012 will be.

In addition to Goodlife, Mary Jaksch is also one of the main writers behind the great writers blog, Write to Done.  Which reminds me, I need to do one of their blogging boot camps in 2012 ~ add that to the goal list!

While this article is not about goal setting specifically, Mary lays out some great steps to help find peace amidst the turmoil and chaos that life can throw at us.  I don’t know about you, but peace seems like a pretty good goal to me! 

I love how silence is step number one.  With all of us being plugged in 24/7, now is a good time to make an appointment with and for yourself to unplug, unwind, and take time to just think about where you are and where you want to be.

I love Barrie Davenport.  She’s another great writer and mentor in the blogosphere. Her posts break things down in manageable steps and she’s always ready with an encouraging word. 

Personal Development highlights twelve steps to prepare for goal-setting.  She takes the tired old resolutions we all used to make [lose weight, exercise more] and repackages them in ways that make “the medicine go down” so to speak. 

For instance, Barrie asks “What have you been feeding your beautiful, amazing body over the last year?”  A question that forces you to examine your eating habits while at the same time affirming your beauty and the goodness of the body.  So much easier than “I resolve to lose weight.”

I keep returning to this site for career and business advice.  But it can also be used for mapping out personal growth.  From this article, they link to several other ones on goals, such as Backward Goal Setting, and Motivate Yourself.

Allyson Whipple is a blogger on SheWrites.  She has an excellant list of broad writing goals with a breakdown into categories and smaller steps for 2012 that is worth reading and adpating to your own writing goal needs.  I found it helpful when developing my own list. 

The key to goal keeping is to break things down to a manageable level, something most of these sites do.  Having one large list of broad goals is not only unrealistic, it’s overwhelming.  Not everyone throws up their hands at such a list and gives up right at the start, but for most of us, it’s tempting. 

Smaller steps give us opportunities to succeed early in the game and reward ourselves.  They also give us permission to fail and try again, thereby ensuring we actually will try again.

Here’s to growing stronger and healthier on all levels in 2012!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

27 December 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Goal Time!

It is never too late to be who you might have been. 
~ George Eliot

It is almost January.  Another year gone.  Where in the world does the time go?  A long time ago, when I was just turning thirteen or fourteen, someone told me that once I hit high school, time would simply fly.  They were right.  And each year it just seems to go by faster and faster.

This year is no different.  Once September hit, life began to resemble the Indy 500 and things didn’t slow down until yesterday.  Planning an arts festival, Thanksgiving dinner, and a Christmas party beats the stuffing out of you.  Not to mention having pesky gallstones earn you a couple of stays in the hospital and catching a nasty cold that leave you too weak to eat even the bland diet the gallstones have you on.  Autumn 2011 was a hell of a time!

Now I am pain-free (although not yet gallstone-free) and have some time to reflect on where this year has taken me and what path I’d like to take next in the coming months.  And since telling someone your goals makes it (hopefully) more likely that you will actually accomplish them, I am going to share mine with you, dear readers.

Goal #1: Write More
This is always the first goal/resolution I make every January.  And I do fairly well in January. February I lose a little steam.  March comes and I get a second wind.  April brings spring fever, and by the time May arrives, I’m exhausted.  It just does downhill from there!

So this year, I decided to tool around reading what other writers and normal people (ha!) were saying about their goal making.  I’ll be posting a list of  the top five ones I found, but I’d like to highlight one (consider it Number Five and a Half if you will) today: http://www.michelleschaeffer.com/.  Michelle always has great tips for blogging, marketing, etc.  Read her entire article on setting goals here.

She suggests breaking your goals down into steps and targets.  Doh! Why didn’t I think of that!?  Not only is this helpful for mapping out where you want to be in twelve months, you can break things down into manageable steps that hold you accountable, so this year you may actually not default on your goals!  Yes! 

With this new power tool in hand, my writing goals now look like this:

1.      Post to this blog at least twice a week.
a.      If I post more than three times a week for a month, I get to treat myself to a new pen! (I really, really, like pens.  Especially fountain pens.]
2.      Respond to all personal letters within two weeks of receiving the letter. (I have a lot of pen pals and friends who write deliciously long, snail-mail letters!)
a.      I would have put a reward of stationary here, but I already need a twelve-step program for the boxes and boxes I have already.
3.      Submit one piece of poetry or personal essay a month to five different magazines or journals.
a.      I think this is its own reward ~ especially if I get published.
4.      Journal at least three times a week. 
a.      This can include Morning Pages, poetry, or general personal rants and raves.  Just journal!
b.      I already have my reward for this: a gorgeous, new, hardback journal.  I hope to have the spine broken in by February.

Goal #2: Personal Growth

5.      Develop one new healthy coping mechanism.
a.      They say it takes thirty days to develop a new habit, and our coping mechanism are just that: habits.  Usually bad ones.  Learning a new, integrated one will help heal the wounds that the old mechanism was simultaneously protecting and scratching at.
6.      Develop a weekly exercise routine that is sustainable.
a.      This means fun.  And being outdoors as much as possible.
7.      Hire a professional organizer and be clutter-free in 2012!
a.      This will also help with Goal #1.
8.      Eat 80% raw (already doing this for the most part)
a.     Reward? My gallbladder will thank me.  Not to mention having to buy yet another new pair of jeans in the last four weeks because the old new ones are already falling off of me. Yes!

Goal #3: Giving Back

9.      Plant a sustainable, organic vegetable and herb garden in the Spring.
a.      This includes research, planning, and hiring some manly labor if necessary. 
1)     Beer and pizza are acceptable forms of payment for aforementioned manly labor.
b.      Donate any surplus produce to the local food bank or soup kitchen.
10.  Volunteer at least once a month at the charity of your choice. 
a.      Yes, The Saint Cecilia Group counts.
b.      No, it can’t SCG every month.
11.  Write your mother a letter.
a.      You would be surprised at how difficult this one can be!
12.  Go on retreat.
a.      Because if you don’t first give back to yourself, how will you be able to give back to others?

12 goals for 2012.  Whew!  That’s seems a tall order! Actually, that means I should add one more:

13. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to fail.  It means you tried.

What are your goals for 2012?  Feel free to share in the comment section!

Oremuc pro invicem,
 ~ Mikaela

25 November 2011

Top Five Friday: How I Found Peace (or Avoiding the Crowds on Black Friday)

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. 
~ George Bernard Shaw

One of the blessings of being back in a relatively small town is the downtown area.  Historic Fredericksburg is one of my all time favorite places to be, and I’m not just saying that as one of its proud Southern daughters.

Today is Black Friday.  A day when manners, already almost completely forgotten on a normal day, are completely thrown out and insanity and incivility rule.  Just as I sat down to write this, I heard on the news about a woman in California who maced other shoppers just so she could get the last Xbox or some such nonsense.  I would like to think this is something that only happens somewhere else, but several years ago I witnessed two grown women, well into their 40s, having a screaming match ~ complete with hair pulling and punching ~ over some item, now long forgotten.  It was my first and last foray into the hell known as Black Friday.

This year, since I was home, I opted instead to support local shop owners and producers.  What a contrast to the big, noisy chain stores!  Shopping was actually pleasant and was an almost centering experience.  I talked and joked with each store owner, clerk, and customer that I met.  The gifts I bought were unique and special and chosen with care.  More importantly, I planted a seed of kindness and generosity at each store that I hope will grow into a life-long relationship and maybe, if we’re both lucky, friendship.

If you are ever in the area and would like to experience warm Southern hospitality while you shop, check out my top five favorite stores and boutiques and all the other great places in and around Historic Fredericksburg.

Vera Bradley.  Need I say more?  You will also love the almost two story Christmas tree decorated with beautiful ornaments, including some Christopher Radko.  Upstairs you’ll find some of the most luscious linens ever to grace your table ~ holiday or otherwise! 

Books. Books. And more books.  Can you tell I love books?  A couple of friends on my nice list are avid bibliophiles.  So shopping for them was a cinch here.  Especially since they especially like old, out of print, or rare books.  Riverby’s is a book lover’s haven, with three stories and couches in different nooks and crannies where you can settle down with your favorite Jane Austen or Walt Whitman.  Of note: check out the Art and Civil War sections.

This has always been my go-to shop for gifts for my home chef and foodie friends.  Which sometimes includes “Merry Christmas to me!”  Ah well.  Today I bought a few stocking stuffers for my close “Captivating” girlfriends, and also a metal food mold ~ think sushi shape, and a tiny silver spoon just for fun.  They also have ornaments, tablecloths and unique gifts in the home section.  Always artfully decorated at this most wonderful time of the year.

This home store was new to me and I fell in love with it.  It was like stepping into the parlour in an old French chateau.  The wall colour is a muted blue ~ almost a pale, pale Wedgewood. I ended up purchasing twelve adorable little pear candles to use a place holders for an elegant dinner.

Another new to me store.  I got to meet Tanya and her watercolours are beautiful.  I bought a couple of original pieces depicting fall scenes in Fredericksburg and the Shenandoah Valley.  With the right frame, it will be perfect for my friend who moved away from all her family and friends in Virginia ~ a little piece of home on her wall.

There are lots more stores I could tell you about, but this is Top Five Friday after all!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

23 November 2011

The Eighth Annual Saint Cecilia Arts Festival: The War Between the States

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. 
~ Twyla Tharp

Well, we did it again.  Another November, another successful Saint Cecilia Arts Festival!  And by all accounts, it was the best one yet.

Once again we wooed and wowed the audience by turns with poetry, Broadway, original music, moving monologues, and side-splitting comedy.  But this year we added a twist: a theme.

2011 marked the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, so that was our main theme.  To broaden it a little for our artists, we added four sub-themes: War, Tragedy, Honor, and Survival.  Both Sullivan and I wondered how the artists would interpret the theme.  They did not disappoint.

The Civil Strings

Civil Strings was our Featured Artist this year.  They performed four beautiful pieces, two of which are personal favorites: Theme from Schindler’s List and Ashokan Farewell, from Ken Burns’ Civil War series.  Over Farewell, Donald Maclean, one of the members of the quartet, read the Gettysburg Address.  It was a moving performance that ended the evening on a wonderful note (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Michelle Jacobeen, mezzo-soprano
Michelle Jacobeen returned and performed two numbers from Broadway musicals.  One was as a Civil War nurse – I Never Knew His Name and one from the musical Jekyll and Hyde – A New Life.  As she did last year, Michelle won the hearts of our audience with her lyricism and dramatic interpretation.

Janet Purdy, mezzo and Maria Bissex, sorprano
Maria Bissex, soprano, sang two songs not normally associated with a Civil War theme: an incredible version of Empty Chairs and Empty Tables, and a moving duet arragement of Into the West, where she was joined by mezzo Janet Purdy.  The latter was one of my personal favorites; believe me when I say that the Annie Lennox version does not do this piece justice.  You need to hear this duo’s harmonies!

Eric J. Kingsepp, Hannah DeRegibus,
Paul Dunlap, and Mikaela D'Eigh

I think it is safe to say that the highlight of the evening was the Went with the Wind skit by Carol Burnett.  I remember watching this skit back in the day, and laughing until my sides ached.  The drapes weren’t green velvet, but the red silk still got the desired response: Starlett [yours truly] had to wait a full minute and a half for the laughter to die down so she could say her next line! 

The menu this year matched the theme, with some stalwart favorites sticking around: Fried Chicken Bites [my mother’s receipe], Sausage Balls [Paula Deen’s recipe], Petite Ham Biscuits, Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Petite Pumpkin Pies, and Pecan Tassies. 

We also had a cheese board donated by Fields of Athenry, a sustainable and organic farm located in Purcellville, Virginia.  And this year’s  spotlighted winery, Breaux Vineyards, is located in Loudon County, not that far from Athenry.  The owners down at The Virginia Wine Experience in Fredericksburg were kind enough to give us a discount on a case of some of Breaux’s nicest vintages.

To see more pictures, read the event program, or simply to learn more about the great work these group is doing to renew culture in the local community, visit The Saint Cecilia Group at www.saintceciliagroup.org and click on Past Events.   I promise you’ll be marking your calendars for Saturday, 17 November 2012!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

03 November 2011

The Eighth Annual Saint Cecilia Arts Festival

To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist. 
~ Schumann

Every November, an exciting event celebrating the beauty of Art and the art of Beauty takes place in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.  Now in its eighth year, the Annual Saint Cecilia Arts Festival has grown from a small group of friends gathered around a piano to almost two hundred attendees and over two hours of outstanding performances!

For the first time this year, The Saint Cecilia Group has chosen a theme for the festival: the commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, with the sub-themes of war, tragedy, honor, and survival.  Although not all the works performed will deal directly with the Civil War, the heartbreak, pain, suffering, and acts of heroic sacrifice of war are recurring themes no matter if it’s 1865 Gettysburg, or 2011 Afghanistan.

The show will be at St. Mary’s Lyceum,
313 Duke Street
in Alexandria, Virginia and tickets are on sale now through November 12 at The Saint Cecilia Group.  But get them now; they sell out fast!

Thank you so much for supporting local and regional talent! Yours truly will be performing once again, in among other things, a skit with one English know-it-all and one with a very well known Southern rascal in a skit involving . . .a curtain. 

See you on the 19th!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

02 November 2011

November 2011 PAD Challenge

Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. 
~ Percy Shelley

It’s already Day 2 of Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem a Day (PAD) challenge for November.  I wish I could say I’m late posting this because I was busy writing a poem.  However, today I will take up the challenge. You go read all the rules and find out more at Robert’s blog.

November is a month dedicated to writing.  You have the National Novel Writing Month, and also a Non-Fiction version.  I would have loved to do either of those, but my track record for writing isn’t so hot.  So I will start small.  A poem a day may seem insane, but for me, it just flows.  Sometimes it flows like spring water and other times it flows like some other kind of water!  But the point is to write.  Every day.

And hopefully at the end of 30 days, there will be 10-20 poems worth keeping and publishing in a chapbook.

Writers, dip your pens!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

P.S. So what have I been working on??  Just one song and two skits for the Annual Saint Cecilia Arts Festival ~ but that’s another post for another day! ;)

31 October 2011

Spirits of the Dead - Edgar Allan Poe

For your ghoulish Halloween reading pleasure: Poe’s “The Spirits of the Dead”
(from: The Complete Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe )


Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone—
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.


Be silent in that solitude,
   Which is not loneliness—for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
   In life before thee are again
In death around thee—and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.


The night, tho’ clear, shall frown—
And the stars shall look not down
From their high thrones in the heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given—
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.


Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more—like dew-drop from the grass.


The breeze—the breath of God—is still—
And the mist upon the hill,
Shadowy—shadowy—yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token—
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries.

28 October 2011

Top Five Friday: Whistling in the Semi-Dark of Morning

The following post was meant to be published last Friday, 28 October, but my home internet was being its usual 3G pain.  So here it is ~ just in time for Halloween!

Pixie, kobold, elf, and sprite,
All are on their rounds tonight;
In the wan moon's silver ray,
Thrives their helter-skelter play.
~ Joel Benton

Not only elves, but other creatures are out as well, and not quite as friendly.  As you know, I moved back to the country recently.  I love being back in the midst of nature, but there are some things that I had forgotten about.  Such as, you can’t put food down the kitchen sink because there’s no garbage disposal.  [I want to compost anyway.]  And there’s no landlord to call when things break down, you need to call the repair guy yourself.  And there’s a good reason to buy a shotgun when you have medium to large wild animals prowling around your backyard in the wee hours of the morning.

Gulp. Did you say large wild animals?

Yes sirree bob.  And what’s worse, I didn’t get a good look at them [yes, there were two], but they were charcoal gray to black and very agile.  One of them jumped over the woodpile to get away from the truck’s headlights as I drove closer for a better look.  Coyote? They’ve been sighted around.  Mountain lion?  Well, I did hear a sound like a woman screaming one morning, and they sound like that. [Remember Pa in Little House in the Big Woods? That can still send shivers down my back!]

The next morning, as I left the comfort and safety of the garage and walked to the truck to leave for work, I sang.  Some people whistle when they’re afraid.  I sing.  Or talk out loud to myself.  Maybe it actually makes the things get a better sense for where I am.  But since a shotgun’s a little too big to take to work with me. . . .

So in honor of the Halloween festivities going on this weekend, today’s Top Five Friday list is of the best songs to sing [or whistle] when trying to convince the resident coyotes or mountain lions that you’re really not afraid. [Although personally I’d feel safer with Mossberg at my side!]

Whistling in the Dark – They Might Be Giants.  They cater to a slightly younger audience these days [and by young, I mean under 12], but their old tunes are still wonderfully quirky and singable.  Or whistle-able in this case.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf - Disney  Does anyone else have a tape or 45 vinyl record of Disney’s The Three Little Pigs?  The song went something like “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf?  Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, la la la la la.”

Beat It – Michael Jackson Aha!  You thought I was going to say Thriller, didn’t you?  I do love that song, but Vincent Price’s voice is too creepy, and the beat is not conducive to calming the nerves or showing how “strong is [my] fight.”  Beat It is your best bet when showing the wild creepies who's boss.

Monster Mash – Bobby Boris Pickett  A classic.  And still very fun to sing.  Especially if you’re afraid of the big bad wolf.  Just say Transylvania Twist and then laugh like the Count on
Sesame Street
and the world is bright and sunny again.

Ghostbusters Theme – Ray Parker, Jr.  No stick-it-in-their-creepy-shiny-eye playlist is complete without this ‘80s gem.  “Who ya gonna call?”  Need I say more? I ain’t afraid of no ghosts! 

Just coyotes. And mountain lions.  And panthers.  And bears.  And spiders.  And . . .

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

23 September 2011

Top Five Friday: Rainy Day Reads

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.  It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy. 
~ Edward P. Morgan

It is raining in Washington.  A day made for staying in bed ~ alternately napping, cuddling, and reading. If it’s raining where you are and you’re lucky enough to have the day off, here are my recommended top five books to read on a rainy first day of autumn.

Young Woman Reading by a Window, Delphin Enjolras

Autumn: A Spiritual Biography of the Season – One of my pen friends recommended this book, along with the companion books of the other three seasons and I absolutely love them!  They are all collections of essays about the particular season; some authors penning odes of adoration and others complaining about the things they hate about Autumn [I didn’t think that was possible!]

Sherlock Holmes – It’s always raining in Victorian London.  What better way to while away the hours than curled up on a velvet sofa in front of the fireplace at 221B Baker Street? If pushed to choose just one story ~ a challenge indeed! ~ I would have to say my favorite is “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”  But I generally save that for the end of October.  So today, read “The Speckled Band.”  And stay away from vents!

Oliver Twist – Another literary favorite set in rainy London.  Of all of Dickens’ works, this is my favorite [a close second is Tale of Two Cities] and not just because I played Nancy in a college production of the musical. And not just because I had a crush on Mark Lester when I was 12 years old.  However, now that I mention it, it is a great movie adaptation.  If I’m reading the book, I’ll put the soundtrack on in the background.

Christmas with Southern Living – No, I am not one of those people who begin decorating for Christmas in September!  However, entertainer and planner extraordinaire that I am, I do like to get a head start on planning for the annual Christmas bash ~ which this year will indeed be an even bigger deal than in years past.  The link above will take you to the 2011 edition, but if you can get a hold of any of the other editions, from about 1998 and on, the decorating tips and pictures are generally classy and timeless.  And the recipes ~ always winners!

A Thousand Days in Venice – I’ve mentioned this wonderful book before, and it is still a great read for a rainy day.  When it’s raining here, I can escape to the seaside, smell the fresh baked bread and pastries from Pasticceria Marchini, feel the Venetian warm breeze, and sit in Piazza San Marco watching the colourful city unfold.

What about you?  What are the books you reach for when the skies turn grey and cloudy? 

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

20 September 2011

Going Home: 53rd Abbey of the Arts Poetry Party

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. 
~ Carl Sandburg

Christine Valters Painter over at Abbey of the Arts is hosting her 53rd Poetry Party!  Here’s how it works:

Christine picks an image, suggests a theme and title and you write a poem or poetic reflection in response.  If you have a blog, post it on your blog and then post the link at the Poetry Party.  On September 25, Christine will pick a random name and that lucky poet will win a space for her online retreat: Honoring Saints & Ancestors: Peering through the Veil

The theme for this party is Going Home.  I wrote the poem below back in May, when my father was in the hospital and we thought we were going to lose him. What poetry or poetic thoughts come to mind when you hear the phrase “going home?”

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

The Old Maple
© Mikaela D’Eigh 2011

The tree stands tall
And old –
had already sunk its roots deep into the heart
when we arrived thirty odd years ago.

Who knows
how long
it stood watch over lilac, pine, barn and cow,
its trunk full of secrets and memories.

How it comforted
            brothers –
one blue, one gray, lying beneath its shade,
leaving only bullets and bones behind.

And the rain
            silent, sad
that mingled with mother’s tears
when Flanders’ fields kept back her sons.

Then, ah peace!
A child, small
there found Austen and Bilbo
among the wide and changing leaves.

And solved mysteries
            with Nancy
and the Twins and the Boxcar Children
while cradled in its strong and loving arms.

I stand now before it
            a woman grown –
my life thick with experience and history
my heart full of secrets and memories.

This tree, this land
            strong, solid --
brings the comfort as of old friends,
and keeps me grounded and alive.

16 September 2011

Top Five Friday: These Are a Few of My Favorite Autumnal Things

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

Delicious quote!  I know it’s not officially autumn for another six days, but the past two days have been gloriously chilly and blue-grey!  The seasonal change bug has been biting me for two weeks, but it was too warm to think about getting out the winter clothes and unpacking the blankets.

But a lover is impatient for any sign of the beloved and any change to be with him.  And I love Autumn ~ absolutely everything about this season thrills me from the folds of my perky cranberry scarf to the tips of my chocolate toned boots.  So today’s Top Five Friday is all about Autumn!

The Colours – I don’t care what the fashion mags say, the fall colours that are always in for me are the rich, velvety hues that nature puts on:  cranberry red, chocolate brown, squash yellow, pumpkin orange, midnight blue, pine green, and plum.  Dressed in those colours, you’ll look good enough to eat!

The Tastes – Speaking of eating, the orchard is simply bursting with plump, beautiful apples and luscious pears [minus any chemicals, pesticides or anything else unnatural of course!] that just ache to be baked!  Hot apple cider, fried apple fritters, fresh made cinnamon doughnuts.  But the star of the autumnal table is the pumpkin.  I think I’ve tried that lovely squash in every manner possible: custard, bread, pudding, chili [oh yes!], soup, fried, rolled, and of course, the ever traditional pie.

The Scents – With all that baking, frying and cooking going on, it’s easy to see why no scent says home and hearth and love like the scent of apples, cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger.  A close second [or fifth as the case may be!] is the smell of brandy and spiced rum.  Perhaps it has something to do with childhood memories of fun times spent baking in the kitchen with Mom, but just inhaling these earthy scents infuse me with calm and joy and a sense that no matter how strong the wind may blow, all is safe and cozy inside. 

The Textures – Interestingly enough, another scent that I love in autumn is soot.  Once you’ve eaten all that pie and imbibed all that apple cider, you need to take a nap!  Preferably by a happily blazing fire and wrapped up in a soft and nubbly[1] blanket ~ cranberry-coloured of course.  Or perhaps a brisk walk would be better after all those calories.  The chilly evening air is crisp and invigorating, and easier to appreciate when you’re dressed in a soft cashmere sweater and a scratchy wool coat.  This isn’t exercise ~ this is bliss!

The Music – The best place for an evening walk in the Fall is in the country.  Nature puts on quite a symphony as daylight shrinks: the crunch of fallen leaves under your feet; the farewell songs of the summer birds as they head south; the honking of the Canada geese as they fly in from the north; the gentle thud of apples falling in the orchard; the crackling of a bonfire; the wind rustling through a corn maze.

Are the nights slightly colder where you are?  What are your favorite things about autumn?

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

[1] Yes, that is actually a word!