The Weather Outside

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple. ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

When we left Denver a week ago yesterday, it was summer. When we got back on Sunday, summer seemed a distant memory. It was drizzling, and the temperature hovered somewhere around 50 degrees. I had turned off the air conditioner, but hadn’t turned on the heat at our house, so when we walked in the door, we were met with a bracing chill. I turned on the heat, and our old furnace groaned and said Seriously? Already?

Thankfully, knowing Colorado weather, we had both brought warmish jackets, and had them on. Still, it was a sad surprise following our five days in North Carolina with the temperatures in the 80s and lots of sunshine. Afternoons in the swimming pool were a mere memory. Pumpkin Spice lurked in the shadows like Freddy Kreuger.

Every year about this time I write my ode to the disappearing summer. Though I should be used to it by now, having lived in Colorado since 1974; nevertheless, it always takes me by surprise. When we left, there was nary an autumn leaf on the trees. When we returned, there was this…..

So I did what any self-respecting home cook would do. I made beef stew. Actually, Sunday night we were too tired from travel to do nearly anything, so we ate at the nearby Greek/Italian restaurant. I made beef stew on Monday. I would show you a picture, but we ate it all and — like God’s creation — it was good.

Quite frankly, there is very little I like about this weather. It’s true that the changing leaves are beautiful. It’s also true that I like the cooler nights and that I happily prepare dinners that have been coaxed into tenderness either on the stovetop or in the oven. Hence, the beef stew. But I will miss my evenings on our patio drinking my gin-and-tonic and cooking our dinner on the grill.

The cool weather always brings to mind football, which makes me happy. This year, however, it will also bring to mind cross country. In fact, yesterday afternoon, Bill and I put on our warm sweaters to go and watch Alastair and Dagny participate in a cross country meet.

Cross country, for the uninitiated, is a bit challenging to watch. The gun goes off at the starting line, and you watch your loved one(s) take off with determination. And then you sort of chase them around in an effort to be somewhere where you can cheer them on. Finally, some 10 minutes or so after they started, you see your loved one(s) cross the finish line, all determination long gone. They are simply tired. Still, the two seem to like it, and if it makes them happy, it makes me happy to watch them…..

The reality, of course, is that all of my nostalgic ruminations about the coming of fall will be forgotten by Saturday, when, in true Indian Summer fashion, the temperatures are expected to again be in the high 70s. There will still be time for Bill and me to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and listen to the elk bugle before the heavy snows begin to fall and I REALLY have something to whine about.

Welcome to Colorful Colorado.

Blanket Statement

joseph afghan

Joseph and Papa share a love for Oreos, so this pattern called out to me as a birthday gift for Joseph.

Waaaay back at the end of August, I blogged about the coming of Indian Summer. Apparently we had one cool night and it tricked me into thinking we were moving into Fall. Ha! In fact, it remained warm throughout all of September. Sure, it cooled off a bit at night, but it never was consistently chilly.

In fact, this past weekend is really the first time that the night was cool enough that I dug out the comforter that I carefully put away in May. And when I say “carefully put away” I mean I threw it in the corner of the bedroom on the floor, fully intending to carefully put it away. That, my friends, is sort of the story of my life, housekeeping-wise (as Shirley MacLaine would say in one of my favorite movies of all time – The Apartment).

Kaiya is showing off the afghan I made for her last Christmas. She chose the pattern and shockingly selected primary colors rather than pastels!

Kaiya is showing off the afghan I made for her last Christmas. She chose the pattern and shockingly selected primary colors rather than pastels!

The coming of cooler weather brings out two things in me — the desire to braise meat and the desire to crochet. I have been doing both.

I love to grill in the summer. And, in fact, nearly every meal that I prepare for Bill and me from May through September involves the use of the grill. By September 1, I am extraordinarily sick of grilled chicken with lemon, grilled skinny pork chops splashed with beer, burgers, and even grilled steak. I am ready to put something in my Le Creuset pot on the stove or in the oven and let it cook until it is fall-off-the-bone tender. Yum. Braised lamb shanks with lentils are my personal favorite. Unfortunately, braised lamb shanks and lentils are probably one of Bill’s least favorite meals. Oh well.

But as the weather cools down, I start going through my afghan books, looking for something that appeals to me. I simply love crocheting afghans, especially in the Fall and Winter. The blankets start out small, but in short order, they become large enough to lay over my knees and keep me warm on the cool evenings. By that time I have memorized the pattern and I can do it while watching television in the evening or streaming a Netflix movie in the afternoon. Love it.

The problem, however, is that I have literally run out of people for whom to make afghans. My friends, my family members, all own a Nana original. So now I have started just making afghans and piling them up for, well, I don’t really know what. Here is one I crocheted last winter….

pink and gray ripple

I have recently been toying with the idea of opening an Etsy store. Selling the afghans I make. Offering the aprons that thus far Bill has been making but which I likely could learn to make. (Ugh, sewing.)  Place mats, scarves, dish cloths, hats, mittons, slippers. Lots of offerings. Here is Bill’s first masterpiece….

me in apron bill made

I will toy with this idea for a bit before I dive in. In the meantime, I will continuing stockpiling afghans. Bill and I will be prepared in case we get snowed in. In Arizona.

Cool at Night

Indian summer is on its way
It’s cool at night and hot all day
Ain’t no black clouds filled with rain
Santa Ana wind blew them all to Maine. — Written by Kelly Jones, performed by Poco

According to Wikipedia, Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. The US National Weather Service defines this as weather conditions that are sunny and clear with above normal temperatures, occurring late-September to mid-November. It is usually described as occurring after a killing frost.

Well, I don’t really care what the definition of Indian Summer is according to Wikipedia, because in my book, Indian Summer begins just as soon as the days are still hot but the nights are cool. When I need to put on an extra blanket at night if my window is open, why then it’s Indian Summer. That’s what the country rock group Poco told me back in 1977, with the release of their song Indian Summer off their album by the same name.

And, by the way, under the rare circumstances when I hear the song, I am immediately transported back to the University of Colorado and I am 24 years old. But I digress.

It might not yet be Indian Summer — either by Wikipedia’s definition or Poco’s — but man-oh-man, you can feel it coming. It’s in the air.

Court told me on Sunday that September is his favorite month. I know exactly what he means. While I don’t love that the days are getting shorter, I do love that the nights are getting cooler. While I don’t love that my petunias are looking leggy and I keep forgetting to water them, I do love that the tomatoes are starting to ripen and I have been able to eat some of my homegrown jalapenos. While I don’t love that seeing my grandkids is mostly limited to weekends because they are all back or almost back in school, I do love that down to each and every last one, they were all excited for school to start.

Can you tell?………………………………

addie first day of school 2015

Addie starts 7th grade.

Alastair starts 5th grade; Dagny starts 4th grade; Maggie Faith starts 2nd grade.

Kaiya starts 2nd grade.

Kaiya starts 2nd grade.

Mylee starts kindergarten.

Mylee starts kindergarten.

Indian Summer aside, I will tell you that there was never a year – not a single year – that I looked forward to being back in school. I disliked school from kindergarten through graduate school. Even getting new crayons and the smell of the mimeographed papers we were given on the first day didn’t offset my reluctance to hear the school bells ring that first time. But at least we didn’t start until after Labor Day. So, while I’m delighted they are happy to be back, I will miss seeing as much of the grandkids as I did this summer.

1378403626000-NUP-156962-1336-rAs I said, I understand why Court likes September. I think fall is my favorite season. I love the changing colors. Jen and I always make a trip in the fall to listen to the elk bugle in Rocky Mountain National Park, and this year Bec will be joining us. And, of course, there’s football. If you are a sports fan at all, you can’t help but get excited at hearing Carrie Underwood sing about waitin’ all day for Sunday night. And if you can boast the fact that your major league baseball team is the very worst in the United States, you can’t help but be ready for some football.

If only winter didn’t follow fall. Still, it’s hard to complain when you spend the bulk of winter in Arizona!