Fall Flowers, Flames, and Leaves

The colors have been brilliant this fall. The warm days and cool nights have given many October flowers a spring-like lease on life. Leaves are multi-hued. Fire pits help outside diners stay more comfortable as they try to lengthen the outdoor dining season.

At Glen Manor Winery near Front Royal, VA

A flaming bush Fog framing Skyline Drive Gnat in Hodder Hill wine

From the Devil’s Grill atop Wintergreen, near Afton, VA (about 3500 ft elevation)

Around the ‘Hood

Local wild and cultivated flowers

Wildflowers along Garth Rd Flowers at Cardinal Pt. Pumpkins & Pansies

Days of Wine and Roses

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Vitae Summa Brevis by Ernest Dowson

Why are roses planted at the end of each row of grape vines?

Rose bushes at the end of a each row of grapevines at Barboursville winery

I somehow thought that it was to help identify whether grapes were white or red because I saw white roses or red roses planted in front of differing rows of grapes. But actually it’s more of a canary in a coal mine reason.

Enjoying some prosecco (including rose) at Barboursville winery

Humidity helps the disease spread and one of the signs of an infected vine is white felting on the foliage and grapes. Another reason for the presence of roses harks back to the days when horses and oxen were commonly used to plough the vineyards. Rosebushes at the end helped the animals navigate the vine rows. Idealwine

Fall at Linden vineyards

October is Virginia Wine Month

The whole month seems wine inspired:

Early morning air has the effervescence of freshly open champagne while the damp earth can smell like the must of freshly pressed grapes.

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Green leaves, backlit by a barely risen sun, seem translucent like a white wine bottle.

As the sun rises, its light enriches from the pale straw of a chenin blanc to the richer hues of an oaked chardonnay before washing the late afternoon earth in the rich gold of a sauterne dessert wine.

Leaves turn the color of merlot purple, oak cork brown, aged riesling yellow, tawny port orange, pinot noir copper.

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I’ll sit outside to soak up the sun and warmth so that I can play it back in my mind to warm myself during the dark and cold of winter grey skies.

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Sandals in the Graveyard

Strands of curling grass

anointed my sandal-clad feet

with cool dampness

where the sun had not yet risen

high enough to dry the dew

covering the tombstones and grass.

No sound disturbed the

absolute silence.

My only companions were

the imagined feet of

priests and pilgrims,

friars and nuns

as we strode though


and holy places

clad in sandals,

wet from October’s

early morning dew.

Animal Life in the Grave Yard

One of my favorite spots to view wildlife (both mammals and birds) is the churchyard at St. Paul’s, Ivy. The churchyard was originally part of the Lewis (as in Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame) family estate. It is surrounded by woods on three sides so there is a good space for animals to graze and then escape into the surrounding woods, down a burrow or up a tree depending upon the animal.

I have seen a buzzard drying his wings on a teak bench.

Sometimes a fickle fox will pop out of the underbrush long enough to be seen.

Vultures sometimes roost in the trees.

A fat groundhog has a burrow under the Osage Orange Tree.

Deer come and go as if they own the place.

The squirrels are present year around.

We’ve even had a black bear walking around the Churchyard. I think that may be the same bear that followed the railroad tracks into our neighborhood last Friday.

Bear picture provided by a neighbor, Larry Briggs. Picture was taken Friday, September 18, when the bear made them change the course of their morning walk.

I Asked Google What the Green Fruit Was.

The first search options were to look things up in print indexes, like Readers Guide..

In print, if you wanted to learn about child abuse in military families, you would look up child abuse and hope it might include some mention of military families or you would look up military and hope it included something about child abuse

The next stage was the ability to combine keywords in these few paid databases such as BRS or DIALOG.

If I wanted something on child abuse in military families, I would use Child Abuse AND Military Families. If I wanted something either child abuse or military families, I would type in “Child Abuse” OR “Military Families” and could retrieve results for either search term.

This search capability was limited to a few academic or public libraries.

The arrival of CDs in the 1990s expanded the number of people who could access the CDs, even if they did not have Internet access.

The Internet and later the World Wide Web made searching accessible to almost anyone wanting to research things online. It still is not all of online or free.

However searching has improved with the addition of AI and algorithms. When I saw a green fruit I did not recognized scattered in the grass of our churchyard, I typed in the question ” What is a green fruit that grows on trees?” into the Google Search box.

This was my result: (Note, it also corrected my spelling.)

Osage Orange is also known as Hedge Apple. It’s not considered edible.

The Harpist in the Glen

​As soon as Eve plucked the first string
the leaves began to whisper overhead
ripples of pleasure rustling from branch to twig.

Butterflies drifted from flower to flower weaving a melody only they could hear

When the music paused so did the leaves.

The birds began chirping to fill the quiet

Eve paused to spin to folk tale while a newly spun spider web vibrated in the ripples when she resumed playing.

The cicadas and one elderly lady in purple accompanied her with their voices.

Summer Slipping away on September Sighs of Covid Exhaustion

In Central Virginia, we have had a rainy August and September. The grass looks spring-time green while some of the tree leaves are yellowed and too weary to hang on for October’s spectacular burst of color.

The temps and humidity have both faded from a blast furnace like slap to a gentle caress. The 90s have sullenly slipped away leaving a mixture of low 80s and full range of 70s in their wake. The dew point has followed from the tropical realms to a more comfortable 50 to 60 percent.

Fall mums are replacing impatiens and begonias in front yard pots and farm stands. The local news has advertised the first corn maze at a pumpkin farm. Pumpkin signs are everywhere from pumpkin flavored lattes at Starbucks to pumpkin infused pancakes at First Watch. The first house in our neighborhood put out it’s ceramic jack-o-lantern.

The season of peaches is waning while the apple and cider season is waxing strongly. Carter’s Mountain, a local orchard, has just implemented a ticket reservation system (with charges for Friday- Sunday) to control the crowds who come to pick apples, drink cider or wine, catch the view, or shop in the country store.

The few remaining cornfields are brown and withered with most ears already picked.

The deer are coming out earlier as twilight emerges sooner each day. Dawn is also later as we burn less day light each day. Soon the rut will begin and unfortunately, car struck deer will provide easy meals for the raptors that soar overhead on the autumn currents coming off the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The dogwood leaves look crinkled and weary as the blight continues to assault each native tree. The red dogwood berries shining glossily on many trees, despite the lichen covered bark and tattered remains of desiccated leaves trembling on each fragile branch.

The local economy seems to be picking up as the students return bringing a spike in our COVID rate with them. How long UVA can continue to hold smaller, more socially distant in-person classes is a close hold secret. The administration has not shared what the threshold might be that could trigger a switch to only online learning.

COVID fatigue has set in long ago with the added stress of the upcoming flu season and the unlikelihood of being able to continue the outdoors dining and meeting space that have been the norm since last Spring.

This has been the first fall in a long time where I have had or taken the time to notice summer’s passing and the slow arrival of fall on September sighs.

I feel as weary as the yellowed leaves

but still hanging on to see

if tomorrow will bring a better day.

Reblog: Vote For Belgium’s Tree of the Year, 2020

Denzil Walton has written a wonderful post on voting for Belgium’s Tree of the Year. He includes pictures and a brief history of why each tree is worthy of consideration. The winner will compete in a European Tree Contest.

An example:


Representing West Flanders is this Ypres survivor of two world wars. This imposing chestnut tree was planted around 1860, when the military fortress in Ypres was transformed into a public park. Along with the rest of Ypres, the chestnut suffered heavily during the First World War. Yet amazingly the stump remained alive. From the stump, four new trunks spontaneously arose.

The Well’s Gone Dry


Bentonville--Well for of leaves at Cool SpringIt slaked the thirst of passersby

But now no longer,

the well’s gone dry.

In these  days of toil and strife

we still need hope,

the water of life.

If that wellspring also runs dry,

many will shrivel

up and die.

We need the living waters

to flourish and thrive

keeping ourselves and our hopes alive.


Happy 75th Anniversary celebrating the end of World War II.


September Days to Celebrate

September (from Latin septem, “seven”) was originally the seventh of ten months in the oldest known Roman calendar, the calendar of Romulus c. 750 BC, with March (Latin Martius) the first month of the year until perhaps as late as 451 BC.[2] After the calendar reform that added January and February to the beginning of the year, September became the ninth month but retained its name. It had 29 days until the Julian reform, which added a day.

Fall--Multi-colored leavesSeptember was called “harvest month” in Charlemagne’s calendar. September corresponds partly to the Fructidor and partly to the Vendémiaire of the first French republic.[3] On Usenet, it is said that September 1993 (Eternal September) never ended. September is called Herbstmonat, harvest month, in Switzerland.[3] The Anglo-Saxons

It is the start of meteorological autumn. The astronomical seasons are based on the position of Earth in relation to the sun, whereas the meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle.

Library card Sign up MonthSeptember is Library Card Sign-up Month.  From ALA

Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. During the month, the American Library Association and libraries unite in a national effort to ensure every child signs-up for their own library card.

Throughout the school year, public librarians and library staff will assist parents and caregivers with saving hundreds of dollars on educational resources and services for students. From free access to STEAM programs/activities, educational apps, in-person and virtual homework help, technology workshops to the expertise of librarians, a library card is one of the most cost effective back to school supplies available.

Read a Book Dayis September 6.

National Read a Book Day


National Read A Book Day is observed annually on September 6th.  On August 9th, we all celebrated National Book Lovers Day.  While these bookish days may seem similar, National Read a Book Day invites us ALL to grab a book we might enjoy and spend the day reading.

What book will you read?

Teddy Bear Day is September 9.

In 1902, American President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub while hunting in Mississippi. The incident made national news. Clifford Berryman published a cartoon of the event in the Washington Post on November 16th, 1902, and the caricature became an instant classic.

This cartoon by Clifford Berryman's publish in a 1902 Wiashington Post inspired the Teddy bear.

Hispanic Heritage Month  is September 15 through October 15.

Hispanic Heritage MonthThis year’s theme – Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation – invites us to reflect on Hispanic Americans‘ service and contributions to the history of our Nation. The Hispanic Heritage observance began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

Many Hispanic Americans trace their roots to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas — including the Arawaks (Puerto Rico), the Aztecs (Mexico), the Incas (South America), the Maya (Central America), and the Tainos (in Cuba, Puerto Rico and other places).

Some trace their roots to the Spanish explorers — who in the 1400s set out to find an easier and less costly way to trade with the Indies. Other Latinos trace their roots to the Africans who were brought as slaves to the New World.

For purposes of the U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans today are identified according to the parts of the world that they or their ancestors came from, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, or the nations of Central or South America.

Autumnal equinox falls on Tuesday, September  22 at 9:30 EDT.

Fall-pumpkins from Blue Mountain

Banned Book Week is September 27- October 3.

Banned Books Week was launched in the 1980s, a time of increased challenges, organized protests, and the Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982) Supreme Court case, which ruled that school officials can’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content.

Banned Book Week BookcartBanned books were showcased at the 1982 American Booksellers Association (ABA) BookExpo America trade show in Anaheim, California. At the entrance to the convention center towered large, padlocked metal cages, with some 500 challenged books stacked inside and a large overhead sign cautioning that some people considered these books dangerous.

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019–How many have you read?

Find more shareable statistics on the Free Downloads webpage.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2019. Of the 566 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”
  2. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased
  3. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
    Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning
  4. Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”
  5. Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
    Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint
  6. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
  8. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”
  9. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
    Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals
  10. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole
    Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content

I’ve read the Handmaid’s Tale and the Harry Potter series.