November Quiet

IMGP6083My daughter’s birthday month got off to an early start when she received her birthday card from the Green Bay Packers on October 31. Finally, an organization that appreciates November with the same enthusiasm as my daughter!

Typically we don’t get excited about November. It’s that brown month between the captivating color change and crisp fall air of October and the lights, tinsel and snow of December. The harvest is in. The fields are barren; the birds have migrated, and the snow has not yet covered the earth in its white winter blanket.

November is the month of naked trees, early nightfall, and frosty mornings. It’s monochromatic. In the United States, the even the major holiday in November, Thanksgiving, is primarily black, white and brown—harkening to pilgrims, turkeys, and a harvest brought in.

At first glance it is a plain month, a quiet month, a slow month.

And in our society we are not comfortable with plain, quiet and slow. Continue reading “November Quiet”

Autumn Preparations

laughing witchBack in September when I ordered my daughter’s Halloween costume, the end of October seemed an eternity away, but it’s here now. Crop dust fills the air now, creating orange, pinks, and purple-greys at twilight against which the newly naked trees find themselves silhouetted. No longer do colorful songbirds hide among leafy branches, instead giant ravens perch on spindly branches cawing their “Nevermore” warning. The wind blows in change.

October that time of frozen mornings, deliciously warm afternoons, and chilly eves. Continue reading “Autumn Preparations”

Guilty Pleasures


Golden rod and asters are the flowers remaining on the prairie
Golden rod and asters are the flowers remaining on the prairie

Fall is in the air. Darkness greets me when the alarm goes off in the mornings now, and the desire to snuggle in a warm blanket, sip on an aromatic cup of coffee and watch the sunrise in quiet comfort is almost irresistible.

The landscape is decorated with gold and crimson—soybeans turning golden brown, golden rod in full bloom, sumac plants with their crimson leaves, and red and orange rose hips and hawthorn berries color my days.

Migrating geese and cranes and cackling turkeys provide the sound track for the day. Crickets and cicadas perform a twilight symphony each evening to bring summer to a close. Stars sparkle in the clear night sky, and Orion becomes prominent in the sky—the hunter returning as autumn approaches.

I love this time of year. There are apple orchards to visit, hikes to take, fall color change to anticipate and watch. The days are clear and crisp. The air is clean and fresh. I can inhale deeply, sigh and be at peace with the changing world around me.

And, there’s one more important thing about this time of year.

It’s time for me to indulge in my guiltiest of pleasures—watching  the boys of the gridiron go at it. Continue reading “Guilty Pleasures”

The Pirate and the Princess

painting-pumpkins-cOnce upon a time there were two rather nondescript-looking characters— orange spheres, not quite perfect spheres; they were just a little bit squatty. They looked a lot like the other orange spheres that were in the field around them. They knew that they were really special on the inside but no one could see it on the outside. Then, one day, a Gentleman came along and bought them.

He put them into a dark trunk, and the orange spheres were afraid that they had been kidnapped by some nefarious villain. They were relieved when he removed them from the trunk of the car at a suburban house and placed him in the grass in the back yard. How they longed to climb on the swing set and sail the seven seas on the fort.

Then the next day the Gentleman and his Daughter brought out a big piece of cardboard and set it in the full sun. They placed the orange spheres on the cardboard. All around them, the orange spheres could see the brilliant fall colors on the leaves contrasting against the deep blue sky and the dark green lawns. Geese honked and flew in their V-formations toward the south.

Then Mother brought out paints and brushes, and the Gentleman and his Daughter said—“This one is a princess, and that one is a pirate.”

Finally someone had seen the nondescript orange spheres for what they really were.

The Daughter carefully arranged a full color palette on the cardboard and began work on the princess. The Gentleman began revealing the features of the pirate.
And so my family spent a delightful fall weekend, painting pumpkins that now grace our front porch. The pirate and the princess sit next to each other, and across from them the sits a winking fairy-god pumpkin and our second annual pink pumpkin.

I really do think Autumn is my favorite time of year. The weather is glorious, if fleeting. There are so many memories to make and so much fun to be had—bonfires, roasting marshmallows, fall festivals, corn mazes and so many other delights.

If you want, you can imagine anything– from a Great Pumpkin who delivers Halloween candy, to a princess and a pirate each trapped in the shell of a pumpkin, just waiting to express themselves and have their stories told.

Happy, Happy Fall.

© 2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

A Special Kind of Canvas

We were blessed with positively beautiful weather in Southern Wisconsin, the beginning of an “Indian Summer” of sorts—with bright sunshine, crisp, clean air, brilliant blue skies. Although the fall color change is past its peak, bright gold and deep red leaves still adorned enough of the canopy to lend a sparkle of color to the landscape.

Our family wasted not a minute of this beautiful day. Continue reading “A Special Kind of Canvas”

They’re Back: Reprise to Things You Can Do That Don’t Involve Watching the NFL This Weekend

Updated 9/27/2012: So apparently the NFL got the message and got to talking. Or they planned to start negotiating this week anyway. Apparently there will be trained refs tonight, even before the deal is finalized. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve fallen in love with the ideal of listening to the Packers game on the radio Sunday while exploring Wisconsin–think I’ll take my camera along. We have soccer practice on Thursday night, and I have plans to attend a talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the Wisconsin Science Festival on Sunday morning. So, I’m out of the habit of being hooked on the NFL, and I think that is a good thing.

I love my Packers. I’ll listen to news casts to see how they are doing as the season progresses and I’ll watch their games, but I think the NFL has blown it. They had a good thing going, but they acted without integrity, frankly, and that just doesn’t sit well with me. It’ll take some time before I become the football fan that I was. I’ve moved on. If you’ve moved on, check out the list below on alternatives to spending your entire Sunday watching NFL games.


Okay, I’ve tried to take the high road on this whole NFL and the replacement officials debacle. And frankly do agree in principle with what Herm Edwards said on Mike and Mike, “know your skill level”. The skill level of the refs is amateur (at best, IMO), and the players and coaches are the professionals on the field right now. So, the players and the coaches have to BE professionals. That said, football is an emotional sport, it’s hard to ask a player to be cool, calm and collected in the heat of the moment, especially since the NFL has let things get so horribly out of control.

That things are so horribly out of control is amazing, since the NFL as an organization has made player safety their mantle and their mantra over the last several years. At its best and most controlled, American football is a gladiator sport. As it was played this weekend, it’s, well, it’s losing fans like me who want to see clean play that relies on skill, aptitude and at least a little intelligence.

Now the only way to make the NFL honor its supposed commitment to safety and integrity is to hit it in the pocketbook (since they seem determined to be weasels). So, I am offering some alternatives to turning on the boob tube this weekend to watch NFL teams that you don’t really care about play their games.

  1. Those of us in Wisconsin who really want to support our AWESOME Green Bay Packers, tune your car radio (AM is best for this) for a nostalgic ride down some of Wisconsin’s Rustic Roads as you listen to the local commentators call the game. Support local radio and local advertisers and enjoy the color change that is under way in Wisconsin.
  2. Fall has arrived across the US. Take a bike ride along the many rails-to-trails bike paths that we have in the US. It’ll do wonders for your heart too!
  3. Go to a Pop Warner or local high school football game. Better yet volunteer to coach or referee the local youth soccer or football league. Meet your neighbors, cheer on the local kids. Get involved in your community.
  4. Catch some of the great baseball that is on. There are a couple of wildcard races that are hot, and the Tigers and White Sox are in a toe-to-toe battle to see who can lose that division first.
  5. Listen to a great American novel, and get sucked into one of the greatest life struggle stories of all time read by some amazing people: Melville’s Moby Dick a chapter a day.
  6. Spend time with the people you love. Go out for a walk around the neighborhood, or down the road to the ice cream shop. Or help your kids with their math homework. Or check out your local public library.

Who knows? You might even find new interest. Heck, you could even learn how to referee an NFL game!

Fall into Comfort

The first weekend in September Fall arrived. The air was crisp, the breeze was blowing. Perfect football days, unless you were a Bagders or a Packers fan, that is. One of my greatest regrets with the end of this weekend is that so many of my colleagues at work are going to be grumpy on Monday morning because of the football outcomes.

Oh well. It was still a beautiful weekend. Continue reading “Fall into Comfort”