A quiet stillness

It’s October. A time for wood-burning candles that pop and snap, for steaming cappuccinos (decaffeinated please), and entering the threshold into the dark time of the year.


The streets are littered with yellow and orange leaves. There’s outdoor work to be done but most of it will wait until next year—painting the other two sides of the shed, painting the deck floor, digging up the patch of dirt to plant tomatoes.

And for the writers among us, we are 15-days away from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

I’ve not yet participated in NaNoWriMo. Writing 50,000 words in a month that holds a couple of birthdays, the Thanksgiving celebration, and a fun but frenetic day of Christmas candy making is too intimidating. And I’m still working on my first novel.

However, I am there in spirit. There’s something about the barrenness of November that lends itself to the pursuit of a creative endeavor. Even with the revising of a story. There’s something about going ever deeper into the lives of our characters, of polishing the plot, of shining the light brighter on a certain scene That’s enthralling.

A couple of years ago, I took a week of vacation to go to a retreat home. An acquaintance who owns a second home in a small village, situated mid-hillside, overlooking the Mississippi River. I stayed there three nights. And I couldn’t get online with my computer although I could read my writing blogs via my phone. I’ve refused to access my various emails and facebook pages through my phone). And there was no television. Only the big window which overlooked the river to watch the eagles and the barges.


That disconnect? That silence? Broken only by a wood-burning candle or Advent songs I had brought along? A balm to my soul. 

Although these short days are hard, especially when they are grey and cloudy, they are blessed days. A time for mystery. A time for the dark soils of our souls to be fallow, to lie still, and gather energy for the spring that always follows.  

It's autumn

Finally it feels like autumn. Last week, it was difficult to watch the leaves fall and the fall-ish rays of the sun, and step outside into 85+ humid weather. Not typical for this area.


Now I'm ready for apples from our tree! Applesauce, apple crisp, and apple pie (with ice cream, of course). And stews and roasts and chili, tomato beef chili and white chicken chili.

And soon, I'll be heading on a mini-bus tour with Mom to see the fall colors. I'm looking forward to it. We'll be seeing Duluth, touring Split Rock Lighthouse, and seeing a Bear Center! Then in the evenings when we relax from our day trips, I'll work on my story. Two more chapters and I'll send it off to a couple of beta readers.  

Are you able to take time to appreciate autumn?

River Fog and Oak Savannas

It's that time of year. The days become too short, too fast. And the nights are cool. So we have beautiful river fog that settles into the valleys as the morning arrives. And then lifts as the sun warms it up.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I went for a long walk with my son in the Lebanon Hills Regional Park, just south of the Twin Cities. Beautiful trees surrounded several small "kettle-hole lakes" and ponds. A few stands of golden leafed aspens stood against various oak tree grovess with their deep-orange and wine-red leaves. And there were prairie areas. The well marked trails gave us a general sense of direction but towards evening we hustled to get out of the woods before darkness completely overtook the landscape. 

This morning I have enjoyed studying this 2013 pdf of the Master Plan for the park, especially Chapter 4, Natural Resources Inventory. 

Did you know that there is a phrase, Nature Deficit Disorder, for children who do not spend much time outdoors? It was coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods. I used to worry that I did not have my children outdoors, as much as I was, when little. I spent so much of my summers swimming in the Mississippi River, bicycling, as well as camping and canoeing on the Zumbro River. But my grown adult kids enjoy getting outdoors for hikes and walks. Evidently our vacation trips to various parts of the U.S., an overseas trip to Scotland, and any other activities they took part in with their dad, grandparents, schooling, scouting, etc. were enough. 

Do you have a favorite spot to go to in autumn?