Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Habit of Thankfulness: A Few of My Favorite Things

Oct 18th- A few of my favorite things...
~Attending a concert series in its 127th year---Civic Morning Musicals
~In a building whose windows have painted light on the pews for 142 years
~Listening to pieces that trascend time---from Tchaikovsky to Paul McCartney--- on a string ensemble

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Habit of Thankfulness: A Few of My Favorite Things

Oct 17th- A few of my favorite things...
~Soaking in colors at Taughannock Falls
~Finding a the Autumn Fairy's house along the path
~A waterfall's view that never disappoints

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Habit of Embracing Autumn: A Handful of Memories

Autumn is a second spring
when every leaf is a flower
          ~~~Albert Camus


A Handful of Memories

     Autumn has always been something to look forward to in Syracuse, NY. While some mourn the loss of summer, as a child I couldn't wait for the leaves to turn. For me new things started in the fall. New classes, new teachers, new backpacks, new paper, new crayons, and best of all the world itself looked new once again, awash with color and new things to discover if you knew where to look.
     Beginning in late summer and into fall, these little green balls would fall to the ground. Later I would learn these were black walnuts. Although their outer casing had a peculiar smell, it was fun to kick them around like a small tennis ball. It was also fun to watch the local squirrels vie for them and carry them back to their nests. If you were really quiet, one bold squirrel might decide to stop and eat one nearby! Watching then nibble slowly through the hull and find the nut inside would take much stillness and patience. They would happily munch away at their snack, then begin scurrying once more for more of the green spheres hidden about my grandma's backyard like a giant scavenger hunt. In the crisp fall air, my sister and I would begin to rake the leaves into leaf pile for my grandparents. Sometimes we would help the squirrels by lining the walnuts that we found while raking in a nice straight line. We would be jumping into the leaf piles and raking them back up, and the squirrels would be enjoying their linear feast nearby.

     Then on occasion, we would head up the hill from where we lived on Bradley St. to Onondaga Park. There they had oak trees! Again, it was fun to watch the furry squirrels dashing about, searching under the first leaves that fell for the season. This park one one of the best for leaf collecting. I took for granted growing up the wide variety of trees at my fingertips here in Syracuse. Maples, oaks, ashes, locust tree and willows each would begin their part in fall's symphony at just the right time. Usually a weak maple of some sort would prompt some adult in late August around me to cry, “What...fall already!?!?!?”, but it was just the instruments tuning. Starting in late September, Autumn’s overture would begins. Slowly the red maples would begin the show, followed by the locust trees and then the rest of the full tones of yellows, oranges, and reds would spread across the hillside...and slowly fall to the ground. Pick up a handful on my walks with my mom was always a treat. My mom had one rule: If I picked it up, I had to carry it home, not her. Choosing the most beautiful leaves could be tricky. After a full handful, some that were less pretty were dropped so that one more beautiful leaf could be carried home. Even leaf collecting worked its way into school memories. My Pre-K and K teachers once a year took us outside, and we collected 4 or 5 of our favorites. Then they were placed in a sandwich of waxed paper and ironed to make window decoration. The scent of of the hot leaves and wax filled the air of the classroom. This is fall's scent to me... sorry, Pumpkin Spice. The colorful leaves hanging in the window like stained glass with late Autumn sun shining through provided a sacred peacefulness on chilly days.

     Fall was also a great time to walk any where...colors overhead, colors underfoot, colors on the hedges...a rainbow everywhere. Then as the leaves began to dry, the distinct crunch, crunch, crunch of walking on leafy side walks and paths would commence. It was a time to you could be noisy and not even the adults seemed to mind. We lived about mile from my grandparents. I loved walking there in the fall hearing the crunch of every foot fall. The best thing about going there is occasionally my mom would take the “flat” route around the hill on Onondaga Ave. to my grandma's instead over the hill (which has shorter, but tough on little legs). If we went there we would pass the best fall tree of all---the horse chestnut. The fun was to get to the trees at just the right time and fill my pockets with smooth reddish-brown nut. While inedible, they could be used for anything your heart imagined: crafts, toys, decorations and more. My best fall memory actually was on Christmas Day...yes a few days out of the season, but a fall memory never-the-less. My dad handed me a package and I carefully opened it. Inside was a snake my father had made using the horse chestnuts. Unbeknownst to me, my dad went to my favorite tree and collected as many chestnuts as he could find. Then he took them home and set to work. He carefully drilled a hole though each chestnut and then strung them on a thin rope. Then he carved one of my half-circle blocks into the snakes head, drilled a hole through the back end and attached it to the chestnut string. That snake made them most lovely rattling sounds. I carried it everywhere with me. Some thought a snake an odd present for a little girl, but it reminded me of two things I loved: My Dad and Fall. Surprisingly my dad's simple toy lasted a long time. I had it for years.
     Sometimes the simplest things will stir the memories under the surface and bubble them to the top. As I walk take my Autumnal walks as an adult, I still find myself listening to the leaves crunch under my feet, smelling the lingering scent of the fallen leaves filling the air, carefully looking for the most colorful leaves, and searching for the ultimate prize: chestnuts!  As I gather handfuls of chestnuts, I'm drawn back to a worlds of long ago...and once again I am playing with my rattling snake...and smiling. Even then, it would remind me, as it chestnuts in my hand do today, that no matter what season I was in, Autumn wasn't very far off and the time of fall's simple joys would be waiting for me there.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Habit of Thankfulness: A Few of My Favorite Things

Oct 16th- A few of my favorite things...
~When your 5 year old gets history and reading skills in when says..."T...T...T... Titanic!"
~A piece of Apple Raspberry pie brought home for no reason at all
~Going to sleep as the scent of apple butter simmering fills the truly is fall 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Habit of Thankfulness: A Few of My Favorite Things

Oct 15th- A few of my favorite things...
~Board games that are simple yet addicting
~Realizing your snack can also double as a building game
~Playing Scrabble with your Bestie and not being too disappointed when he won because you had fun together

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Habit of Thankfulness: A Few of My Favorite Things

Oct 14th- A few of my favorite things...
~Meeting an early settler and fashionista/bloomer wearer Harriett Midler in her actual home
~Hearing John Greenway Jr tell us all about his brewery's famous New Year's Day Picnic
~Having the audience get the chance to be an Eastwood High Cheerleader if only for a moment...whoever says history is boring hasn't been on an OHA Ghostwalk 

The Habit of Thankfulness: A Few of My Favorite Things

Oct 13th- A few of my favorite things...
~Our yearly pilgrimage to the apple orchard to pick apples,...
~Eat warm apple cider donuts,...
~And have apple cider slushies