Without a doubt, this is my favorite time of year. I LOVE AUTUMN! I love frosty mornings, changing leaves, wearing sweatshirts again and - this may be the most important - Halloween candy.
I’m not real excited about it getting dark earlier and earlier but I can deal. To be honest, I’m kind of looking forward to slowing down a little and hibernating. Right now between work and classes, I’m gone three nights a week and showing nearly every weekend through mid-November. Sitting on my butt in my recliner with a dog and a book on my lap is starting to sound really good. Remind me I said that when I’m bouncing off the walls with cabin fever in January.
Some people don’t like this time of year because it means winter is coming and in the upper Midwest, we’ve had absolutely wicked winters the last few years. I’m not exactly looking forward to winter but won’t let guilt-by-association spoil the enjoyment of autumn.
Here are signs of autumn at our house:
• Flannel sheets on the bed.
• An extra blanket on the bed. Phoenix thinks there should be an extra dog on the bed, too. Technically, this is Jamie's blanket but he lets the humans use it.
• Grain harvest and the Farmer working very long hours.
• Seeing how long we can wait before turning the furnace on for the first time. This year, we made it until Friday, Oct. 2. When I got home from work that afternoon it was 56 degrees in the living room. It was time to flip the switch but we carefully set it at 60 degrees. That will be fine until “real” cold weather gets here. Hey, you’re talking to the people who lived for a week with 42 degree INDOOR temps a few years ago when our power went out during an ice storm. I don’t know if we’re tough or just crazy.
• Poop patrol gets serious. The dogs’ fenced yard is surrounded by trees and this time of year, that means poop disappears really fast under leaves if it’s not picked up promptly. From now until the leaves quit falling and all the raking gets done, I am the Official Poop Nazi.
• Cutting back my potted geraniums and hauling them inside to winter over in an upstairs bedroom. And you thought cinderblock furniture wasn't stylish any more. The plant on the right end is a lantana. I tried over-wintering one a couple of years ago and it didn't work very well. Maybe this time I'll have more success. The geraniums are virtually foolproof, by the way. This bedroom is unheated and I water them about once a month. They hibernate, too.
• Cleaning off the perennial beds and tucking them under a thick layer of mulch for the winter.
• Vacuuming and cleaning up the “training room.” This just happens to be the same upstairs bedroom where the geraniums live during the winter. It’s fun to train around blooming plants in January.
• The first official mug of hot cocoa on a chilly autumn night. With lots of miniature marshmallows. The dogs love marshmallows, too. I think we could skip the cocoa and just eat marshmallows.
• The thrill of the first hard freeze. I have NO IDEA why this is so exciting. But it is. Even though I'll miss my flowers. This yarrow hasn't noticed not much else is still blooming.
• Taking cuttings off my lava rose coleus for next spring. This is the most amazing plant. Last fall, I took three stem cuttings, rooted them in water, stuck them in dirt in a small pot, spent all winter cutting them back so they didn't take over the house, potted them in a big pot in May and put them outside. The resulting plant is about four feet in diameter.
I have to go find my witch's hat and broom now . . . shouldn't be too hard . . . I've been flying around on it a lot lately at work.