I think everyone gets a little old-fashioned on the first real days of fall. Suddenly, everybody is heading to an apple orchard, or baking a pumpkin pie, or inspired to catch a high school football game.
We’re all drawn to flannel, and knits, and cozy blankets on chilly nights. None of these things are terribly expensive–in fact, older things are often cozier.
These are a few of the old-fashioned pleasures of my week.
In the month of November, I was struck with a sudden desire to buy every candle on earth that claimed to smell like a campfire or a pine tree. I restrained myself (somewhat), but I’m pretty well stocked up for winter. In addition to woodsy scents, my current favorites are Steinbeck and Charles Dickens from Paddywax’s Library collection (I only buy the little travel ones because I can’t bring myself to spend more than $10 on a candle). That’s not an advertisement, I’m just very enthusiastic about them.
Evergreens have the obvious Christmas connection, of course, but I like them all winter long. This little bough made a great addition to our holiday greenery, but I’m keeping it up until it starts dropping needles. Unlike my Christmas tree, which started dropping needles immediately and liberally, like the Charlie Brown tree. I also have a mason jar full of boughs on my table, and I think it looks kind of sculptural and elegant.
Cleaning All The Things
With January, inevitably, comes the strong urge to clear my clutter, clean everything out, and dust in the corners. My energy and attention span are not as strong as said urge, but I’m working on things. I detailed my fridge door with a toothpick the other day, and I’m not sure who I am anymore.
That means two things. First, I reference this thing at least once a week, and my husband still has no idea what I’m talking about. Second, I am full of bright and hopeful energy, because autumn is, objectively, The Best Season in the Midwest.
“Week” is kind of generous…let’s call it “this summer’s old-fashioned pleasures” since these pictures go back a bit.
From walking along the Big Lake (Michigan) to swimming and boating on smaller lakes, this has been a watery summer. I took this picture of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline on a particularly idyllic day at Montrose Harbor in July.
My little victory garden plot is doing well so far. This is the first year I’ve harvested more than one cucumber, but squash is still a bust. Here’s a sunflower that grew from a seed I started in March, finally showing her face.
A new gig has taken me downtown more often this summer, which allows for old signage sightings like this one.
I’ve seen more milkweed than ever in my neighborhood, and this year, that seemed to directly correlate to an uptick in monarch butterfly sightings. There were at least three in the community garden the day I took this picture, and I was seeing at least one a day for a while.
The middle of the country gets a lot of flack, sometimes for justifiable reasons, but look at this landscape. Summer in the midwest means wildflowers, and sunshine, and cherries, and living outside, and birdwatching, and jumping into lakes. It means nature trails, and red-hot pavement, and sliced melon from the fruit stand, and the bells ringing on the ice cream carts. It’s a good place to be in the summer.
At present, I have acquired 11 pounds of rhubarb, and I’m not done. Eventually, I’ll can it, but it’s tucked in the freezer for safekeeping. I discovered I have a bit of a hoarding problem, as there was still a quart of cherry-rhubarb pie filling in the back of the freezer, which I rather sheepishly made into a cobbler.
My secret garden
Our fire escape, like many in Chicago, is almost a porch. There’s room for a chair and some flower pots, and I’m very pleased with my little collection of impatiens, petunias, coleus, and begonias. I have vastly improved the view out of my kitchen window.
My actual garden
A few blocks away, 4×8, full sun, and all mine, my little community garden plot is doing quite well this year. I’m regularly harvesting greens and radishes, and everything else is looking good, for the most part.
I finally have a compost bucket and derive a truly astonishing amount of joy from putting food scraps into it.
What old-fashioned things are soothing your soul this week?
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