Changing Seasons

The day has been one of those perfect days that occasionally arrive to refresh the spirit. The weather was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining and the sky was blue with only a few white clouds. The temperature was warmish, but with a coolish breeze. Although the day appears summery, there is a feeling in the air that autumn is coming. I love autumn.

I think I was so pushed to exhaustion and beyond yesterday that even Prednisone could not keep me awake. I actually slept hours without waking, and feel so much better.

The challah bread I made today.
The challah bread I made today.

Today was the day to make challah bread. I always start challah bread as soon as I get up in the morning, even before I make coffee. Challah bread is my favorite bread to make. Somehow, it always turns out beautiful, even on the days when it doesn’t rise as it should, or I don’t have the right sort of flour, or I have to use sugar because I ran out of honey. I’m always amazed that I can make such a beautiful bread. I never would have imagined that I could make such a work of art. Every week I say breathlessly: “Oh, this is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and I MADE IT.” And every week EJ says, “That is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BREAD EVER.” JJ says, “HMMMMMM!”

Today’s bread turned out exceptionally beautiful: the perfect golden color, the perfect texture, the most delicious taste. The picture is of my challah bread–after we had eaten some.

After I had prepared the challah bread, let it rise, punched it, let it rise, braided it, and was letting it rise again, EJ and I left to take a few items into the consignment shop we have recently discovered in the next town. We are really trying to unclutter our lives, and thought we could start selling some items that we no longer use.

Usually my dog Danny takes no notice when I put on my shoes in the morning–he reacts only when EJ leaves for work because he recognizes THAT is the time he gets his walk. However, today, he shoved his way past us through the front door, so we decided to let him go with us. The woman at the consignment shop saw him and gave him two doggy treats.

The Farmers' Market.
The Farmers’ Market. I took this picture with my phone as we were driving away because I forgot my camera again.

The next stop after the consignment shop was the Farmers’ Market, which is set up each Friday in the hospital parking lot. My only regret about the Farmers’ Market is that we didn’t start going to it at the beginning of the summer or in previous years. We were aware of it, sort of, but we always forgot what day it was or were too busy to go. However, now that we have experienced it, it’s become part of our Friday morning routine. It’s so very fun. We love interacting with the farmers. We bought two dozen eggs from the farmer we usually buy eggs from…and also bought blackberries, blueberries, yellow plums, a couple of cucumbers, and a pint of buttermilk. We grow blackberries ourselves, but these were HUGE and EJ couldn’t resist buying some. We also are trying to grow blueberries, but they didn’t do so well this year, and I couldn’t resist buying some.

I looked at lavender plants at another booth at the Farmers’ Market, thinking I’d like one for a house plant. The woman at that booth suggested a French Lavender plant that was specifically developed to be an indoor plant, although any lavender can be grown inside, she said. I bought it.

We got home, I finished the challah bread, and made steak, yellow beans, salad, and cucumber slices for our very wonderful Shabbat meal, which we eat before EJ and JJ have to leave for work. The beans and salad greens were given to us by Frank, one of our sweet elderly neighbors. He likes to occasionally share his garden produce with neighbors. He is retired, and frail, and I think it gives him an excuse to visit with people.

EJ left for work at 2:30 p.m. and JJ left an hour later.

I had a friend ask me a few weeks ago how I would fill my time now that JJ has graduated and I no longer am homeschooling him. When JJ was a tiny baby a different friend said that every age that her children were currently at was always her favorite age for them to be. I have found that to be true as well. I loved JJ as a baby when I could rock him and nurse him. He was delightful (although exhausting) as an energetic toddler. I enjoyed (despite occasional battles) homeschooling him and watching him learn. But I am also enjoying his emergence into adulthood. I am sure there will come a time when he moves out and I will struggle with Empty Nest Syndrome. However, right now I am utterly enjoying this changing season we are in. JJ is maturing and I don’t have to say so much “do this…don’t do that.” There have been times when I wondered if our strong-willed child would ever learn the things we were trying to teach him but I am seeing now the fruit of our efforts. JJ is turning out to be a fine young man–a man who works hard, has integrity, is tenderhearted, and yet knows how to stand up for himself. I am proud of him.

Also, in this season, EJ and I have a newfound freedom to spend the mornings together (JJ is a night owl and sleeps in). My mornings are not filled with school assignments, and then rushing to fix lunch, seeing EJ off to work, and then getting my chores done and trying to fit in extra tasks. We get to enjoy quiet mornings together, or browse through Farmers’ Markets or thrift stores…or whatever. We love hanging out together. 

My Front Porch Garden
My Front Porch Garden

And although I enjoy them when they are home, when my guys go off to work, I have peaceful afternoons/evenings to do whatever I want. Many times I study Hebrew with my friend for a couple of hours via video-chat–although sometimes we just sit and chat, she in her state and I in mine. Today we couldn’t meet so, after I walked Danny, I transplanted my French Lavender into a better pot and added the pot to my Front Porch Garden of horse-radish, ginger, bay, rosemary, and cactus plants. Then I carried all the bricks that I had dug up from the path the other day to the place where I am stacking them. I “threw the shoe,” telling myself that I would carry and stack only so many bricks, and then only another additional segment, knowing all the time that I was planning to carry and stack them all. It’s just easier to imagine only doing a few at a time.

June 2013 030Danny came outside with me. He settled in the shade and quietly watched me as I worked. He is a quiet dog and his greatest pleasure is to be near me. I think he is an introvert, like me. My cat, Rikki-Tikki-Tabby, also joined me. He loves to be with me when I am working outside, and he followed me back and forth as I carried bricks.

The morning was so enjoyable with my family, and the weather so beautiful, and I was so enjoying my quiet afternoon tasks, that I felt joy filling me.  I wanted to take a picture of the day, but a picture would not have captured it. Sometimes only words will do.

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