Last Fall Days

Sunrise Nov. 20, 2020.

Leaves fell from deciduous trees in our yard revealing squirrel nests high in the canopy.

The last few days have been warm, in the 70s. Meteorologists say temperatures will cool as autumn’s last month begins. Yesterday the wind died enough to take a bicycle out on the trail. I wore a face mask as the coronavirus pandemic is escalating in Iowa. Our neighborhood is dotted with homes in quarantine because someone in them contracted the virus.

More people on the trails have begun to wear face masks. The state park is a place where people can gather, social distance, and chat with masks on. The color of water with flocks of pelicans, Canadian geese, and other waterfowl slowly swimming the surface is always pleasant. The peace was disrupted last Sunday when a 21-year old student from the university crashed his automobile near the state park entrance resulting in his fiery death.

The idea of a week persists despite many reasons why it shouldn’t. There is a weekend kicked off by Friday’s handmade pizza dinner. Saturday is a time for getting outdoors and working on projects in the garage, garden and yard. Sunday has become a day to take it easy, spend a long hour with the Sunday newspapers, and take an afternoon nap. By Sunday afternoon it’s time to read email, make phone calls and prepare for the coming week. Weeks have become anchored by such weekends.

To help our friends at the used bookstore in the county seat I bought some children’s jigsaw puzzles for our public library. I emailed the library supervisor and they had been discussing buying more puzzles. It turned out to be a win-win-win scenario. Because shipping is so expensive I will mask up to make a trip to pick them up, then deliver them to the library. The bookstore and library have excellent protocols for protecting everyone from transmission of the coronavirus so I feel safe making the trip.

The library is again taking donations for the Friends of the Library used book sale. It’s uncertain when the next one will be, however. They stopped taking donations at the beginning of the pandemic so it’s positive to hear they resumed. I’m running out of room and plan to donate a couple hundred in the first go-around. I’ll do my best to refrain from buying more at the sale.

We made a list of items for a Thanksgiving dinner. It has been a long time since we left home or had guests here for the holiday. I’m not sure what happened other than we have a small family. This year it will be the two of us again with phone calls and video conferences mixed in with meal preparation. We usually eat leftovers for a week or more after the meal. We used to make special meals for Christmas, our birthdays and wedding anniversary, and Independence Day, but not so much any more. When I pick up the puzzles I hope to find some organic cranberries and oranges to make cranberry relish, a household Thanksgiving tradition.

I’m not sure how much longer to ride the bicycle this year. Suffice it that if the weather holds I’ll continue. Weird weather has come to characterize Iowa and so many other places. We feel the impact of the climate crisis every day. To our benefit, climate change created a zone of temperate weather over our home and the region. While it has been exceedingly dry this autumn, there is hope for precipitation over the next few months. Gardening and farming should yield abundance as they have since settlement after the Black Hawk War.

Today, I’m planning a typical weekend Saturday while embracing the idea such typicality is fleeting. Our lives can be over in a moment, like that of the young man who died a week ago. We must cherish our lives as we can because all we have is the present. As bad as it seems some days, considering the alternative, it is not so bad.