Tag Archives: enjoying life

The Quest

When does an obsession start? Who really knows, but you may wake up one day and find yourself in the middle of one. It starts slowly, maybe even with a reasonable idea, but then it overtakes you. It happened to me this autumn—I became obsessed with seeing the glory of leaves changing color. This is a story that is enhanced by pictures, some of those enhanced as well, as you will see.

It started in mid-September when we were in Seattle visiting our daughter and grandkids. I took the three-year-old for a walk and we collected leaves that had already fallen.


Later, when our grandson was playing in the band during their high school football game, I scouted for changing leaves.


But it was too early for Seattle, which would be glorious by October.

I told myself that it was fine—I was just warming up my skills because we were to leave ten days later for a trip that would begin in Quebec. We’d board a cruise ship in Montreal, traveling on the “Fall Medley Cruise” up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Seaboard. “Mother Nature’s Paintbrush,” the cruise line’s brochure said. “Imagine a land so transformed by color that even the commonplace becomes extraordinary. A walk through the woods is like stepping into an autumnal kaleidoscope.”

Maybe it was this description, which started me on being a crazy person. I fell for the hype, hook, line and sinker. I expected to draw my curtains in the morning and be presented with the kaleidoscope described. Not to be. Quebec was a jewel: charming and unique. But the trees were green.


On the train to Montreal, I was encouraged when I saw patches of changing leaves along the tracks. But it turned out that was an anomaly.


It was chilly and crisp, but the leaves were proudly green.


I was still hopeful. With the cold temperatures, the leaves had to turn soon, I thought. And we were going way north to Nova Scotia, so that would certainly do the trick, right? Wrong.

IMG_6653Above is what we saw. Below is what we could have seen.


It was when we were in Maine that I became aware I was obsessed. We’d had a tour guide take us to Kennebunkport from Portland, Maine so we could visit friends and eat at the Clam Shack, which has the best fried clams anywhere in the world. On the way back, I saw some trees along the highway that were crimson. “Stop the car,” I yelled. As I stood on the side of the highway, I saw my traveling companions shooting me questioning looks. The question: Has she gone nuts?


It wasn’t as if I hadn’t had this happen to me before. I remember being in Boston one year at Halloween. “All a yuz shouda been herah last week,” I was told.

On our return to the West Coast, we stayed a couple days in Seattle. “Finally, “I said to my husband, “we’ll see some autumn color.”A day earlier, maybe. But a storm had blown in and blew the leaves off most of the trees. I know because I took a walk with my camera to find them. An hour later, I returned, with little to show for my effort.


Finally home, my neighbor made me feel a lot better about all the greenery we’d seen. “One year when we were back there, the leaves were so technicolor, you needed sunglasses,” he said. I’m sure he’s still wondering why I doubled over in laughter.

I did a little research on Fall Foliage, which, BTW, has become big business for the Northeast. Cruise ships disgorge hundreds of Medicare Tourists daily during this period—we were as numerous and pesky as fleas on a barn dog. I had evidence that I wasn’t alone in my quest for florescent foliage. You can even download an APP that will keep you updated as to when the leaves are reaching their peak.

But why is this so unpredictable? New England Fall Foilage Central says “the unpredictable factors that influence the rate at which leaves change colors are rain, the amount of sugar in the leaves, the number of daylight hours and temperatures….The three-day weekend around the Columbus Day holiday is often associated with peak foliage in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, but there are no guarantees.”

Really? Thanks for the heads up!

And by the way, the photo below was taken on October 15!Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 1.30.49 PM

The Autumn of My Years: Indian Summer

This morning when I was swinging a bag of trash into the garbage can, two of the landscape guys drove by in their truck. They waved at me enthusiastically and I waved back. I think of them like nephews and give them cookies quite often. When I look at them I see two Hawaiian guys in their thirties—hard workers, strong and conscientious.

As I walked back into the house, I started wondering what they saw when they looked at me. I’m not sure why I went off on this tangent, but once the thought entered my head, I couldn’t let it go. How did they see me? Did they see me, the person I am? Or did they just see an old woman? Which led to the age-old question: who the heck am I, anyway?

I must admit I’d fallen into the trap of believing everything on my driver’s license was true except the birthdate—which is the exact reverse of reality. First of all, the picture hasn’t been changed for at least ten years—no way I look like I’m in my fifties. Then, my height is off—it’s less than the 5’6” recorded. Meanwhile, my weight is more—the weight posted is what I weighed after losing 15 pounds when I had malaria.


I realized that there was a height issue when I began showing up as the shortest person in all the photos except for my two granddaughters. (Quinn, 12, is gaining on me fast but since Joeli is three, I think I have a little time there.) I guess I’d deluded myself that yoga and Pilates were keeping the space between my vertebra open, but I was beginning to wonder what was up. I mentioned it to my son who put me straight fast: “Mom, quit kidding yourself,” he said. “There’s no way you’re 5’6” anymore.”


Okay then—so could there be other things I’ve been kidding myself about? Although I feel like I’m 48, I’d already figured out that was impossible as that same son just turned 45. But on the days my knee or back or shoulder or ankle doesn’t hurt, I feel just the same as I did in the twentieth century. Maybe even better.

I am not the same, I know. I look at life differently in the autumn of my years. While it is still my Indian Summer, I believe one of my major jobs in life is to enjoy each day—enjoy it the way I want to enjoy it instead of doing a million things or doing what someone else enjoys. In middle age, I was a multi-tasker extraordinaire. I thrived on it or so I thought. Because in reality, I was always exhausted and at the end of my rope.

It really is much better now. I do less and enjoy it more. This aging phenomena has its rewards!




A Lazy Sunday Morning

Remember when you were a kid in the summer and you’d sleep ‘til 11:00 and then feel it was your Constitutional right to spend the afternoon at the beach? I thought when you got older, life would be like that. You’d have a lot of time on your hands and you could laze around. Not so. My babyboomer friends and I seem busier than ever.

Somewhere along the line of working and raising a family, I developed the mantra that for it to be a good day, I had to accomplish something. This has left little time for lazing around. And of course, there’s always many things to do. I rarely sit down for longer than a few minutes unless it’s night time. Today, I have.

It was a beautiful morning and I decided to drink my coffee, sitting on my deck. It was a revelation. Our dog Bogey kept eying me with suspicion, sure that I would leap up in a minute, but finally he trusted that I was sitting still and he jumped up to sit next to me. Then I heard this beautiful birdsong that I’d noticed for several days. I looked around to see where it was coming from, and saw a bird, its chest dusted in red, sitting on the rail. It trilled again and then flew away.

I sat quietly and finished my coffee, wondering what kind of bird this was. Still sitting, I pulled out my iPad and emailed my brother, the bird whisperer, about the bird. He emailed back a couple of suggestions. Then I remembered that over the years, we’d had birds nest in our outdoor speakers. I looked up and sure enough, I could see a nest.


I went inside for food and when I came back, I heard cheerful chirping. The birds were there. Were there babies? I wondered. Were there eggs? I decided I wanted to see. I got a foot stool, but it wasn’t high enough. I couldn’t find the stepladder so I brought out the kitchen stool. Now, I’m recovering from knee surgery and subsequent back problems. When I looked at how high the stool was, even I wasn’t that stupid to use it.

very high stool.

very high stool.

All this time, I heard my husband’s voice in my head, yelling at me: What in the hell are you thinking? Really, you’re going to climb up on something unsteady to look in a nest? Are you crazy? Thankfully, in real time, he’s golfing, but I was very careful when I picked up the small table by the outdoor chair and moved it into position. Climbing up on it was a challenge with my knee, but I managed it. I still could have used something higher, but I decided that could wait ‘til tomorrow. Meanwhile, all my maneuvering disturbed the bird, which flew away to the backyard. This, at least, gave me a photo op.


I went back into the house, noticing all the tasks I need to start or finish. But, the writing bug bit me and here I am, talking with you. I’ll find out more about the birds tomorrow and let you know. Meanwhile, if you can tell by the photo what kind of bird it is, let me know. I’m going to take a nap.