squirrel-1444350_1920I’ve been watching the oak trees on my farm drop a prolific crop of acorns this year. So many acorns in fact that I began to wonder if my trees were alright. Sources I’ve read say that despite the old farmer’s warning, a heavy acorn drop does not mean we will have a hard winter, it just means we had the right weather conditions for a heavy flower set on the oak trees this past spring.

So we have a bounty of acorns. My bay quarter horse Jo-Jo loved to eat acorns in the fall, but he could not stop himself from contentedly crunching them until he’d end up getting a colicky belly ache. Not good. Our resident squirrels (we don’t have many squirrels because of our healthy population of hawks and coyotes) stand in bewildered amazement at the abundance of acorns under our red oak in the back. At the rate they are burying them we should have our own red oak forest come spring.

Acorns plunk down into our waterfall pond like heavy raindrops and also into our coffee if we sit out by the waterfall on the weekends. Navigating our patios are rather like walking on a bag of marbles, no matter how many times you sweep the crackling, rolling carpet up.

But in retrospect, the bother balances with the good when I think of how many animals use the acorns as a food source. Between the deer, quail, squirrels, foxes, small little night rodents and the birds, a bumper crop of acorns means food for their winter. So the table is set for you guys at my farm. Bring your friends, we have plenty of acorns to go around.

Image CCO Public Domain Pixaby


Like I Said..

dog-1240645_1280It’s a good thing to keep journals when you’re a teacher. That way, when you finally do go round the bend, the docs can read your journal and say ” Ah yes, this was the exact moment she slipped over the edge.”


..just after New Years’ a few years back

We were discussing the concept of space in artwork (the area around, within and between objects) in a 5th grade art class. I’m using food as my example because that always gets their attention. I’m talking with one student who is obviously not getting it.

Me: “Tell me the name of a food that has a hole in it.”

Student: Nothing. Silence. Crickets chirping.

Me: “OK, I’ll give you a hint. You eat it for breakfast and you buy it at Dunkin….”

Student:  “Pancakes? ”

Really. You can’t make this stuff up.

Me: “Class, help him out.”

Class: “Donuts!”

I’m trying to make this student feel better, so I say …

Me: “Let’s switch to another art element, texture. Here’s where you can use texture in your drawing. If you want to draw your pancakes with something sticky running all over them. Great texture. What would that sticky stuff be?”

Student: “Butter?”

Me: “……OK.”


..just before Thanksgiving a few years back

A student in my 6th grade art class tells this story as his “one Good Thing that happened to you this weekend” story. We are talking about Thanksgiving dinner at the time and this young man says, ” My Dad likes turkey but he doesn’t like to shoot them, so he catches them in a bag.” I let that sink in for a minute and then say, “Really?”  ” Yeah,” he says.

“We have some property that’s fenced in with tin and we corner the turkeys. But this one got out and it chased me and pecked me.” Laughter fills the classroom as he is enjoying the telling and I’m thinking, “Probably so.” He goes on.” So we kept that one as a pet.” “Really , the one that pecked you?” I said. “Yep.” he says. ” I named it Speedy.”



Photo: CC0 Public Domain, Pixabay


Autumn Embers



The smell of wet leaves and wood smoke in the air. The first cold snap. November means the holidays are coming.

My father would have been 87 years old yesterday. He died November 26th of 2010. My mom died November 21st of 2006.

I listen quietly to people lamenting about all the work of Thanksgiving dinner and cleaning house and bothering with this or that relative, and I think, “Just wait. There will come a day when you wish for all that and more.”

Grief has a way of reminding you of all the good times shared. Everyone comes to a point where the loss of family makes certain days bittersweet. I am no different from anyone else.

But this year, as I feel the first chill in the air, I remember it was my mother’s favorite time of year. I embrace the sadness with the joy and open my heart to the experience. I am profoundly thankful for the time I had with my dad and mom, brother, aunts and uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers…all gone now. But as I stir the fire in the fireplace this Thanksgiving, I will bank sweet embers of memory inside my heart against the coming winter.

My sister’s birthday is today and she is coming to spend time with me and my incredible husband this Thanksgiving. I cherish her visit more than I can express. So while I think of my Dad and Mom and all the family next week, I want them to know we are ok. And yes Dad, George will smoke the turkey and yes Mom, we will make the dressing with so much sage it will be slightly green. But it won’t be as good as yours. And we will tell all the family stories. And all our extended families will go and do as they wish.

And I will be thankful I have the chance to laugh, love, and remember one more year.