The sky is gray and the leaves are starting to cover the backyard in a crunchy brown blanket that reminds me of all the work to be done this weekend. But I don’t resent the endless chore of raking. I like getting out in the air when it’s cool and crisp, when the birds are noisily warning each other overhead about what’s clearly coming soon — winter. I love this season. I love that there is so much to anticipate once we get past September. Once we pass mid-October, it’s like a holiday sprint at our house and I am doing my best to slow it down this year and enjoy each part.
This weekend I’m cleaning out the front beds and planting bulbs, and that will be it for the gardens for the winter. My roses are still going crazy, so I’ll leave them for now and prune them once it gets really cold. But after the mulch is down, the rest of the garden will be ready to rest until spring. I’m looking forward to an explosion of color this year. I always have tulips and daffodils, but this year I’ll have giant crocus, lilies and dahlias as well. (If the deer don’t get wind of my plans). We lived in the desert for almost four years, so I’m embracing a garden-friendly climate with everything I’ve got!

I’ve already pulled out the crock pot and we’re on our second butternut squash. This week I have big baking plans, too, involving puff pastry and green apples and caramel sauce. I get happy just thinking about wearing sweaters and bustling around in the kitchen.

I don’t know why I seem to forget that these Rockwellian dreams are usually shattered by two tiny boys running through screaming about butts and poop and burping or scattering Ritz cracker crumbs everywhere. But they’re part of the fun, too. They’re excited about Halloween, of course, but the little one keeps asking when the Christmas village will be set up. (I have recently developed an old lady addiction to the Department 56 Christmas Villages, and every year I watch eBay like a hawk for my next acquisition. This year I’m adding a light house to my Dicken’s Village. Shut up. I know I’m mixing genres and those things don’t go together. It’s my village.) I think he’s as excited about it as I am, which makes me happy. We take a big trip around Thanksgiving time to see family every year, and it might be my favorite part of the whole year watching all the little cousins play together.

But before that, we have the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, which is also always a good time. I forget sometimes, in the course of our day to day lives, what an honor it is to be associated with the proud traditions of the Marine Corps. And I forget that the man I married has sacrificed a lot and put himself in harm’s way to protect the ideals that this country stands for. It is great to have an annual reminder of his commitment and to get to feel that surge of pride renewed.

I am also feeling energized and optimistic this morning because today I got up early again to start something new! I’ve been doing so much revising and editing and formatting and finalizing with REDEMPTION RED and MEN AND MARTINIS, that I haven’t gotten to just WRITE in a while. I didn’t get far today, because I’m just getting to know my characters and learning about their world, but I’m very excited about them and this project. Having a new focus reminds me why I write in the first place…

I know that spring is supposed to be the season of rebirth, but I still think autumn is the time each year when I take stock and renew myself.