Over the river and through the woods.

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The kitchen window at the little house in the woods frames this scene.


Screen shot 2014-11-22 at 4.50.20 PMMy very favorite holiday is just five days away. This year Carolynn and Bill will be with us and we’re all going to celebrate in Leslie and Martin’s little house tucked in the woods above a burbling river and within sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains.


It’s mind-boggling to move a feast to a remote site where there’s no easy access to a grocery to get whatever has been left behind. That’s my excuse anyway, and my only duty is pumpkin pies. The brunt of the work has fallen on Leslie, and Carolynn is making the apple pies this year.

But I’ve run out of time, so instead of a new post, here’s a chapter from my second book, That’s all she wrote (2007). 

 ~ Thanksgiving’s just around the corner ~

The first of hundreds of Christmas catalogs begin to arrive just after July 4 and back-to-school displays appear in stores by mid-month. By the time the long Labor Day weekend approaches Halloween displays are in place. This past year, two days before New Year’s, I saw a suspect bright green display at the end of a store aisle and yes it was St. Patrick’s Day merchandise. I asked the clerk why so early and she said, “Oh, this is nothing. At the end of the next aisle we’re doing the Easter display … and Valentine’s have been in for a week!” She was as dismayed as I was.

What is with this season rushing? Why can’t we live in the moment, enjoy the now, take time to smell summer’s roses before we start worrying about mulching them for winter?

I hate to rush the season, any season, but I admit I’m always in a rush towards autumn, a rush to be rid of hot weather, summer and light-colored clothes. I like to be inside, snug and cozy, enjoying summer’s bounty, making pies, quick breads, pickles. I look forward to wearing rich autumn colors, wools, and tweeds. I can’t wait for the leaves to turn so I can emote over the brilliant colors. I’m always anxious for the leaves to start falling because second only to shoveling snow is my passion for raking leaves. I savor Thanksgiving’s approach. …

Thanksgiving … time for pumpkin and squash, gourds and bittersweet, bronze and yellow mums. I always eagerly awaited the first crisp day when Carolynn and I would trek to Hinman’s farm market for autumn’s bounty. But things change. Hinman’s is no longer there, nor are we for that matter. I used to have to skulk off to my secret spot in the park to get my autumnal cascade of bittersweet; now I’m spoiled for choice because bittersweet overruns the woods here.

I do have to admit that there were several years before we moved when Peter and I started thinking Christmas as early as August. That’s when a huge outdoor antique show and sale took place near us. It was a great source for presents, potential presents that is. I’ve always been the “idea” person, so I’d have to start early unearthing treasures for Peter to refurbish in time for Christmas giving. He made my ideas realities. Part of the fun was seeing an old, derelict something-or-other come to life under his skilled hands.

So, as much as I hate the rushing of the seasons, I’ve been guilty too.

One November I clipped one of Ralph Dunagin and Dana Summers’ “The Middletons” cartoons that said it all as far: The couple strolls past a department store decorated for Christmas. Christmas Sale! signs are plastered across the display windows and a Salvation Army Santa stands by the door ringing his bell. Mr. Middleton says to his wife, “Wow! Thanksgiving must be just around the corner.”

The … year … I clipped that cartoon — we were still living up north — it was … another two weeks to Thanksgiving and I was doing my weekly grocery shopping. “Frosty the Snowman” blared on the sound system, but the foot of new snow outside probably justified that. However, when a bona fide Christmas carol started to play I was suspicious.

Then I noticed the deli section was encased in a cardboard candy house igloo, the butchers were hanging fake garland, and Christmas hams were on sale in the big meat case down the center of the area. “Wait a minute,” I yelled. “What happened to Thanksgiving? Where’s the turkey?”

My “bah humbug” was loud and clear as I finished filling my cart and strode out of sight. I was already planning the letter I was going to write, a letter that would not be addressed to Santa Claus.

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4 thoughts on “Over the river and through the woods.

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