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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Transitions

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,



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Fall is my favorite time of year; I think of it as my busiest period of "annual transition." There are so many once a year tasks associated with this time, and each one crossed off the list brings a sense of both accomplishment and anticipation.

Yards and gardens are prepared for their rest period, as the gardeners prepare for their rest also " pulling out the withering tomato plants, the drying up flowers, and picking the last vegetables. The task of cleaning up the fallen leaves will come soon enough; in the meantime we can enjoy the anticipation of the annual show of breathtaking color, especially as reflected in a lake or river. Cabins, campers and shacks are buttoned up for winter, or readied for hunting season. The boats are prepared for storage and perhaps a snowmobile is checked over for the first time in months.

Sleeveless shirts and sandals are moved to the back of the closet and sweaters and boots back to the front. Maybe it is a bit early to wash the mittens and stocking hats " but as long as we are at it, let's get to that as well. Do last year's winter boots still fit those small feet, or do we need to go shopping?

And the kitchen sees a flurry of activity as well. As I write this the first pot of chili is assembled and ready for the crock pot tomorrow. There will be fewer fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, and I will miss the melons and soft fruits. But stew, cabbage rolls and homemade potato soup star in my plans now. A favorite sugar cookie recipe gets a tiny pinch of pumpkin spice added, and with my pumpkin and autumn leaves cookie cutters, I whip up a batch of special fall cutout cookies, ready for orange frosting and a piece of indian corn sugar candy on the top. The spicy smell fresh out of my oven is so good both the dogs are lurking at the invisible line keeping them out of the kitchen.

There are other transitions as well " the kids go back to school. I don't know which was harder for me all those years ago; watching my first born son get on the school bus for the very first time as he started kindergarten, or the day we drove off and left my baby at her dormitory halfway across the state. Each departure brings some pain, but then a sense of peace afterwards (sometimes, some days afterwards) as we find out they are going to be just fine, after all.

The return of football shakes things up " now game days are carefully planned for and around. We alter our weekend routines to ensure we can watch, if possible, our favorite teams " college teams from Madison and our kid's alma mater, University of Oklahoma (OU,) as well as the Packers. Meal plans are adjusted accordingly and all the normal weekend chores get fitted in around this priority.

A supply of beautiful Bermuda hay, adequate for our two horses for the short winters here is neatly stacked in the barn. My sister in Madison and I agree that having a good-quality supply of hay laid in for the winter is enormously satisfying.

And one more major transition looms for us this fall season. Our trips back and forth to Wisconsin have gotten as frequent as they were in my father's final illness, as early preparations are underway for our move back "home." A few weeks ago, we pounded in long yellow wooden stakes to mark our new driveway; got the necessary permits and were assigned a fire number for our "age-in-place" home. By the second week of October our barn will be up and final details are being selected for the house. I have been packing boxes here in Oklahoma, painting and cleaning, and making endless lists of "to do" items for our current home and our new home. I am back and forth so often now, between Oklahoma and Wisconsin, that I feel like I have one foot in each state; and half of my heart each place too. It is both exciting and heartbreaking to have this change nearly upon us.

We are all busy, but take time to enjoy your transition to fall. Don't rush that child or grandchild agonizing over which pumpkin they want. If you are lucky enough to have a dog that loves to play in the leaves, watch them romp and envy them their typical dog "live in the moment" nature. Get some flavored coffee, tea with cinnamon spice or a cold beer and admire the beautiful trees. Soon enough we will be spending most of our time indoors, but this time of transition is a time for a sweatshirt, an agreeable companion and a walk in the woods.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.


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