The Gathering

This past week I’ve been watching squirrels gathering acorns around the church grounds. They’ve been quite busy! As I observed them, I wondered how they know when they’ve gathered enough. Do they know how many they will need during the long winter ahead? Have you ever wondered where they keep them all?

I’ve seen squirrel nests up in the treetops, but it’s doubtful there is even a single acorns inside. The gray squirrels in our area actually bury their cache, one nut at a time. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, each squirrel can bury up to 1,000 nuts per year! And somehow, they will find a substantial number of them when they are hungry. (And I’m pressed to find where I’ve placed my six pair of reading glasses.)

Arrivals and Departures

I often ponder the amazing timing of God’s creatures — how they know when to gather food, hibernate, and migrate. Do they simply sense the change in season, or are they intricately designed to know when it’s time to gather or go?

By mid-April each year, I am eagerly watching for the hummingbirds to arrive at our feeder. They are so tiny and quick that I often miss their debut. One day I’ll be standing at the window sipping my coffee, and suddenly, there they are! Then again each fall, I await their departure for warmer climates. The feeder stays outside until I am sure they are gone. Then within a few days, I am cheered by the arrival of the Dark-Eyed Juncos, foraging on the ground for seeds. The passing of these two bird species is nearly simultaneous each fall.

Think about the millions of birds and butterflies right now, high above us in the skies, heading to their winter homes. And next year, they will make this trip north again. It’s truly amazing!

Goodnight Garden

On the home front, the vegetable garden is almost finished for the season. I find myself wishing we had planted more squash, but we just didn’t have the extra space this year. We’ve had quite a lengthy dry spell, and everything green is stressed from the ongoing heat. We continue watering our tomatoes, and they are still producing fruit. That will likely continue until the first frost, usually in mid-October.

As we did last year, we plan to let a substantial part of the garden stay in place through the winter months. It provides both food and shelter for our feathered friends. We’ll have a bit more clean-up in the spring, but I don’t mind the delay.

🍁🍁🍁

The Homecoming

Perhaps like the squirrels, fall is my gathering time too.

This change in seasons brings a blend of heavenly aromas — cinnamon and nutmeg, hot apple crisp and simmering stews. It’s time to dig out the sweaters and blue jeans, and begin decorating my home. Fall is a cozy time of anticipation too, while I await that moment when everyone finds their way back home. My nest — and heart — will be full again.

 

Suddenly November

I am so happy that election week has passed. Amen?

Fall, which is usually my favorite time of year, has been an unsettling season thus far. Our family has been broken-hearted following the passing of my father-in-law last month. The mid-term election was a distraction amidst our grief. The non-stop drama didn’t end on November 6th, and continues on today.

Somewhere in all that chaos, November arrived. This realization hit me when the Black Friday ads spilled out of the newspaper this week. Ugh!

First things first. We finally tossed the Jack-o’-lantern that was sitting on our front steps. His toothy grin stuck around as long as the leftover Halloween candy. Both needed to go.

Next, my mom and brother came to visit and we dug out our fall decorations. This is something we usually do together in early September, but the delay didn’t seem to bother anyone. It was a crucial step in preparing our home for the coming holiday season and the long, cozy winter months ahead.

Yesterday we spent much of the day relocating our daughter’s two house rabbits, Max and Charlie, from the guest room to the basement. That sounds simple enough, but it was quite an undertaking! Each has his own hutch, toys, litterbox and dishes. Then there is the food — assorted types of hay, timothy pellets and treats. The move was stressful for the bunnies, even though it was only down two flights of stairs. We love them dearly, but look forward to the day that all three of them find a place of their own. In the meantime, our son deserves a proper (and rabbit-free) guest room, as opposed to the sofa in the basement, when he visits us later this month.

Photo from wilddelight.com

The weather is feeling more autumnal too. We had our first real freeze last night and the remainder of our flower garden died. The zinnias were blooming through last week, but now everything is brown and wilted. The birdbath had ice on it this morning, so it was time to add the heater. Our daughter filled all the feeders today and told me the Dark-eyed Juncos had arrived! This is a sure sign that winter is on its way.

I know many people dread the colder months, but I enjoy living where there is a clear distinction between seasons. What Northern Virginia lacks in fall color (from my perspective as a former New Englander), it more than compensates with its beautiful springtime blossoms. Our summers are hot and steamy, and our winters are damp and windy. Snow is hit or miss (mainly miss) but every now and then we get walloped.

But now I must pause before looking too far ahead. November is where we are now. I am determined to focus on each day as it comes and stop fixating on what I cannot predict or change.

I know that the Lord wants me to live in the present — not on the past or the future — but the now. And that is where I plan to be.