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Archive for September, 2011

Fall Along the Fencerows.

This was a column I wrote for the newspaper a few years ago. Whenever autumn arrives, these are the things I think about.

The caterpillars are on the move.

On my way home today, I almost ran over one of the brown, furry “woolly-worms” as it inched across the road in front of my car. I swerved to let it pass unharmed.

Dad and I used to hunt for caterpillars in the late summer when I was little.  We drove the country roads near our house looking for the fat, fuzzy “willy-worms,” as I mistakenly called them.  I held a large glass jar between my bare, shorts-clad legs, its metal lid punctured with knife holes that would allow air into the jar.

Dad drove very slowly, windows rolled down, the smell of earth and grass and fencerows wafting in the air around us. When we saw a caterpillar in the road, Dad stopped the car and I jumped out.  Holding tightly to my jar, I ran to catch the caterpillars as they slipped over the tarry, pebbled roads.

I picked up their brown or black or caramel colored bodies and watched in awe as they hastily curled into balls on the palm of my hand.  Then I carefully placed them in the jar and Dad and I continued our caterpillar journey.

When we got home with a full jar of wiggling, furry caterpillars, we searched for the perfect place to set them free. Picking a spot near the house, we took the lid off the jar and gently placed them on the grass.  Our intention was to have a yard filled with butterflies in the spring.  To do that, we needed a yard full of caterpillars in the fall.

I imagined walking across the yard one day the following spring and finding myself enshrouded in a cloud of butterflies.

Just as they did when I was little, the traveling caterpillars tell me that summer is almost over and autumn is waiting to make an appearance.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  That was not always the case. When I was still in school and had to worry about tests and classes and homework, I dreaded autumn, which represented only one thing to me then—the beginning of a new school year.

Grandma always said that it seemed like once the fourth of July arrived, summer was pretty much over.  She would make this announcement each year as we ran barefooted across the lawn, clutching sparklers that glowed like fairy lights in the hot, evening air, their brightness rivaled only by the fireflies swirling around us.

“School will be starting soon, girls.”

Bobbie and I would stop our firework dance and protest.

“Don’t say that.  Don’t say that,” we wailed.

But there were other signs, too, besides our grandmother’s maudlin prediction that told us summer was ending.

There were two commercials on television that almost made me weep when I saw them.  The commercials, one for Country Time Lemonade and the other for Cedar Point, played only seasonally in late July and throughout August.

The Country Time Lemonade advertisement featured kids riding bikes down country lanes and old people gathered on wide front porches with sleepy dogs at their feet.  A deep voiced announcer advised us to take one more afternoon bike trip going nowhere; to spend one more day doing nothing; to enjoy summer (and, of course, a big glass of lemonade) before it was gone.

The Cedar Point commercial juxtaposed roller coasters in summer with the same rides in winter.  Smiling, screaming children were shown flying around a roller coaster track, sun and blue skies behind them.  Then the screen would flash to the roller coaster covered in snow, sitting idly, hibernating and dreaming (we supposed) of June.

Bobbie and I hated those commercials as much as we did Grandma’s Fourth of July warnings.

There were other clues around us, though, in the fencerows and ditches that served as harbingers of summer’s passing.

When I was a child, there were still plenty of fencerows lining the back roads.  Wooden posts strung together with wire fencing served as the boundary between a farmer’s fields and the weed filled ditches lining the roads.  In those border areas between road and field, there would be young trees and wildflowers and animal homes.

It used to be common in the fall to see pheasants moving through the fencerows, where they had nests, to the fields where bits of grain lay scattered during harvest time.

Sometimes on moon-drenched nights red foxes would slip into view, their sharp, pointy faces staring out from the chicory and Queen Anne’s lace lining the ditches.

I gathered bouquets of brilliant blue chicory and the filmy Queen Anne’s lace, never realizing that they were weeds.  I thought they were beautiful.

Grandma used to read poetry to me from a book of children’s poems.  One poem that we both liked by Mary Leslie Newton was titled, “Queen Anne’s Lace.” Recalling the poem as I wandered the fields, I imagined all kinds of stories as I gathered the gossamer plant.

Queen Anne, Queen Anne, has washed her lace

(She chose a summer’s day)

And hung it in a grassy place

To whiten if it may.

Queen Anne, Queen Anne, has left it there,

And slept the dewy night;

Then waked, to find the sunshine fair,

And all the meadows white.

Queen Anne, Queen Anne, is dead and gone

(She died a summer’s day),

But left her lace to whiten on

Each weed-entangled way!

There was one fencerow on the way to my Uncle Donnie’s house that we always watched for.  Perched atop a wooden pole was an old boot.  We wondered who put the boot there and why they left it.  I always wanted to wade into the ditch and retrieve the boot, but Dad would not let me.  He told me I’d have nothing to look for if the boot was gone. It would be transformed into just an old boot once it left the fence post.

One day when I was older, after Uncle Donnie had died, we drove that road and the boot was gone, too.

Sadly, like the disappearing boot, much of what used to be in fencerows has gone, too, as houses are built and farm fields disappear.  With the fencerows have gone the pheasants and the foxes.  City people want neat and tidy, bug-free roadsides.  The ditches get mowed and sprayed.  The wildflowers fade away.

Along the fencerows, in the autumn, we used to find bittersweet.  Dad knew certain places where the glossy orange-berried vine grew.  He would go and cut some for Grandma and she would hang it on the front door and around the house.

Dad can’t find bittersweet anymore in his old haunts.  The fences it used to wind around are gone.  The chemicals on the ground have destroyed its roots.

Grandma is no longer here to look pleased and amazed at Dad’s discovery.

Autumn seems bittersweet without trips to gather armfuls of the twisting vine for our matriarch.

And still autumn is the time of the year I look forward to the most.

Joe and I met in the fall and were married in September.  Just the thought of autumn makes Joe smile.

“We met then,” he always says, as if that explains everything.

I love the smell of burning fireplaces and the sound of crunching leaves underfoot.  I love to see scarlet and gold trees highlighted against a sky so blue you almost have to squint to shield your eyes from the vividness.

I also love the fact that I do not have my autumns interrupted by school any more.

A tree in the front yard is changing the color of its feather shaped leaves already.  Copper leaves drift down to the ground and lay like bright coins around my birdbath.  Floating on the water’s surface, the leaves, like pennies in a fountain, seem to represent wishes.  Perhaps the secret wishes of the birds.

Buses as orange as the falling leaves slip along country roads, picking up children still dressed in the shorts and sneakers of summer.

In all the excitement of football games and school activities and preparation for winter, some might not notice that summer has passed away.  As the cricket chirps die and the caterpillars disappear into cocoons, some might not realize that autumn has replaced her sister, summer, along the roads and lawns.

As I listen to the crickets’ songs, I will mourn summer’s passing even as I welcome autumn.  For like everyone, I only have a finite number of summers, a limited amount of Junes, Julys, and Augusts.

But, like the caterpillars, I have many roads to travel before my summers are ended.

UPCO’s Fifth Annual 4 Mile Walk/Run is Saturday, September 24.

The Uptown Plain City Organization (UPCO) will be hosting the fifth annual “Darby Dash,” a four mile walk/run, on Saturday, September 24. This event will start at 8 am for adults with a Kid Fun Run for runners 14 and under beginning at 9 am.

Registration the day of the race is $25. Online registration and a map of the course can be found HERE.

This event is being co-sponsored by the Masonic Lodge of Plain City (Urania #311) and all proceeds will be divided between the Lodge and UPCO.  The Columbus Running Company is also helping with this fun day.

The four mile course for the event will proceed through Plain City’s historic Uptown and pass through Pastime Park. The Kids Fun Run will stay within Pastime Park.

For more information, please go HERE.

The Orchard and Company is Open This Weekend, September 17 and 18, Plus Every Weekend Through October.

Looking for a place that will entertain children, while also allowing adults to enjoy a beautiful Ohio autumn weekend? Look no further than The Orchard and Company, a family friendly destination that will be open from 11am-6pm, September 17 and 18, 24 and 25, and weekends the entire month of October.

The Orchard and Company features, not only an apple orchard, but also many exciting activities meant to entice visitors from Plain City and across the state. With a gift shop, bakery, and “Pigadeli Café” on site, shoppers and “foodies” alike will find seasonal treasures and edible goodies galore.

For children, there are tons of fun activities that keep them on the move, including a pedal car track, tire climb, jumping pillow, zip lines, boat launch, and more. If the kids aren’t tired after a day at The Orchard, they must be robots!

The Orchard and Company is currently hosting “Scarecrows for Charity” as part of their Fall Festival. Scarecrows, created by local charitable organizations, will be on display throughout The Orchard. Visitors can vote for their favorite scarecrow after viewing them on a tractor drawn hayride. The winning scarecrow’s creators will receive a $300 prize.

The Orchard and Company is located south of Plain City at 7255 US Highway 42 North, just a short, scenic drive from Columbus, London, Marysville, or Dayton. The Orchard and Company would also like to encourage bicycle aficionados to ride out and drop in for a bowl of chili or a slice of pie. The Orchard and Company is only a few miles from The Heritage Rail Trail’s endpoint on Cemetery Pike in Plain City.

An Orchard day pass is $8.00. The tractor drawn hayride, as well as fishing in The Orchard’s pond, requires an additional $2. Children two and under and adults over sixty-five receive free admission.

The Orchard and Company can also accommodate large groups and parties. Contact The Orchard for a place to host school outings, birthday parties, reunions, weddings, company meetings, and other special occasions.

For more information on The Orchard and Company, visit their web site: www.theorchardandcompany.com

Become a fan on Facebook HERE.

Humane Society of Madison County’s New Shelter Looking For Volunteers to Get Up and Running.

I recently received the September 2011 newsletter from the folks at the Humane Society of Madison County. As I had told everyone before, the shelter has acquired property and a building where they will be moving off of State Route 142, about 10 minutes from Plain City (can you read my excitement that they are going to be so close to us?), but in the West Jefferson zip code. Renovations have been going on and they hope to be moved in to their new “digs” very soon. The latest newsletter updated some of the things that are going on with the move.

If you click on the page from the newsletter to the left, you can enlarge it and read about the new shelter and what is going on now.

Additionally, I’ve included the entire newsletter link at the bottom of this posting. The newsletter includes lots of good information and photos of the renovations.

I wanted to include in this posting, however, an invite from shelter director, Betty Peyton, to come take a look at the new building and also help out with some of the renovations on Saturday, September 17, and Sunday, September 18. Below is the information on this volunteer opportunity:

On Saturday, September 17th, starting at 9:00am until ???, we need volunteers at the New Shelter located at 2020 ST RT 142 NE, West Jefferson, just a quarter of a mile south of I-70. Volunteers are needed to help finish up painting, wash windows, clean, build stuff, etc.

On Sunday, September 18th, starting at 10:00am until ???, we will finish up all we can.

We think we may already have folks who can build the playpen wall and shelves in the cat playpen area, but there is plenty more that needs to be done.

We are also looking for folks who can help with the landscaping in the front of the shelter. There are a couple dead bushes and others needed trimmed up. We would LOVE to have some fall plants if possible.

All volunteers are required to fill out a volunteer form which can be done that day. If you are under 18-years-old, a parent or guardian is required to also sign the form. Folks can pick up these volunteer forms at the current old shelter at 1357 ST RT 38 SE, London during open hours of noon to 5pm Monday to Saturday or wait until the day of volunteering and fill out at the new shelter.

Come and be a part of the New HSMC Shelter.

I was also happy to read in the newsletter that Madison County is now doing all their spays and neuters in-house and will eventually move to doing public clinics. Because they are up and running with “Neuterville” for the shelter animals, they do have a wish list of needs. You can read the entire wish list by clicking on the flyer to the right to enlarge it and print it out if you would like. There is also a regular shelter wish list on this page, too.

Please help HSMC in any way you can. Once their public clinics get started, Plain City and Madison County people will be able to go there to have their cats fixed, as it will be very, very close.

To read the entire September 2011 HSMC newsletter, which features lots of photos of the new shelter, click on the link below to open it in PDF format.

September 2011

Remembering 9/11.

This coming Sunday will mark the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11. Like many historic moments, I can remember exactly where I was when I learned about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. I was still at home, but Joe had just arrived at work at the old pharmacy downtown in Lovejoy Plaza. I was listening to the radio and heard announcers talking about a seeming accident in which a plane had crashed into one of the Towers. I went downstairs and turned on the television.

I was watching the news and the live coverage when the second plane flew into the second tower and suddenly it was no longer an accident. I tried to call the pharmacy then to see if Joe knew what was happening, and, in one of the scariest moments of my life, found that all the circuits were busy and, something I did every day without much thought–making a phone call–was impossible. I remember wondering if the whole country was under attack. Would planes come flying in over rural Plain City dropping bombs? Frantically, I just wanted to get to the store so I could be with Joe and other people I cared about.

That day was a haze of horror. Our good friend and delivery driver, Paul Carpenter, was still alive and I remember how upset he was watching the events unfold. Joe had me bring a small television up to the pharmacy so the staff could keep track of what was happening.

One of the things that I remember that makes me proud is how the whole country rallied together and suddenly patriotism was cool. Joe has always been big on flying the flag and paying homage to our country. It was nice to see others doing the same. I remember there was a frantic rush to find flag lapel pins and the few that we carried, and had never sold by the cash register, suddenly disappeared overnight. People began wearing red, white, and blue to honor those who were no longer with us.

That patriotism has faded over the years. I no longer see people with flag pins on their shirts and jackets.

But there are other ways to honor those who died and shine light into the depths of a very dark day.

I recently learned about a web site called “I Will” that asks people to do good deeds in order to remember those who perished ten years ago during this horrible act of hostility and hatred. The web site is set up to make something positive come from something grotesquely negative. You can post a tribute, volunteer, and support a cause to bring about acts of love and kindness from the ashes of 9/11. The site asks you to pledge to “perform simple acts of compassion, such as performing good deeds, helping someone in need, volunteering, or supporting a charity of personal choice.” Then you sign up and tell what you plan to do.

I can think of no better way to honor those who died than to do something good in their memory.

To read more about this and post your own tribute, visit, 911day.org

Visit the 911day Facebook page HERE.

In addition to the country’s simple acts of kindness, a much grander tribute is being planned on the site where the Towers stood. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum will be dedicated on 9/11/11 and will open to the public the following day on 9/12. To see photos of what the Memorial will look like, visit the 9/11 Memorial web site HERE.  The Memorial is going to have two square reflecting pools built in the footprints of The Twin Towers. Around the base of the pools will be carved the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day.

Additionally, visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Facebook page.

As with so many tragedies, the way to honor those who died is to find ways to never forget and to make the world a better place in their memory.