Monday, August 27, 2012


What says 'the end of summer' to you? When I was a child, summer's end came when my mother took me shopping for a new pencil box (yes, I know I'm revealing how old I am) and a new pair of school shoes. There was also the ritual trying on of the school clothes, to see what could last another year, what needed the hem let down, and what would have to be replaced. My mother was both thrifty and a good seamtress, so nothing was discarded if it could possibly be made to last.

School shopping had changed by the time my children were in school. Then it was the hunt for the clothes that were 'in' and also acceptable to my standards. But that shopping was still the marker for summer's end, and although the kids grumbled about school starting too soon, I knew they were secretly ready to get back into the normal routine.

Now I don't have kids at home, and while I love getting a back-to-school gift for each of my grandkids, it's not quite the same landmark. I watch the yellow school bus go by our house without stopping and start up the hill toward the elementary school with a slight pang.

At this stage of my life, summer's end has come to be marked more by the state of the garden. When I start canning spaghetti sauce, giving away eggplant, and roasting green peppers, I know that no matter how warm it still is, fall is approaching inevitably. The sumacs along the roadside hold their flame-colored plumes high, and in the cornfields the stalks are high enough for a child or adult to get lost in. Mist hugs the valley when I walk out to the mailbox in the morning, and the first few falling leaves skitter across the road.

Don't get me wrong--I love fall. It might be my favorite season, especially here in our Pennsylvania valley, where the ridges will be lit by color in another month. But there's something a bit melancholy about fall, as well. Maybe that's a hangover from childhood, when it seemed the beginning of school meant an end to freedom. Or maybe it's just the reminder of another year slipping past, something that occurs more quickly as one gets older.

An elderly friend told me once, as she approached the end of her battle with illness, that she'd been thinking a lot of what Heaven would be like when she arrived. Her conclusion was that it would be like the hills in autumn, with every growing thing announcing its transition to another phase of life in a final blast of triumphant color.

Happy fall, everyone. Enjoy it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Holiday

I know it's been some time since I've posted, but it's been a very busy few weeks! I attended the Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim, California, (awesome) and then returned to a couple of days to recover before the first two of my grandkids arrived for their summer visit with Grammy and Grandpa.

Our daughter flew up with the two girls, ten and seven, and then flew back the same day, and the two of them felt very grown-up about the whole experience! The next day two more grandkids arrived, so we had the four cousins for almost a week. They had such a great time, and so did we. No writing was accomplished around here, but it was probably very good for me to switch into Grammy mode for a while. They played in the creek, went to the local amusement park, spent a morning at the Children's Museum, caught crayfish and minnows, picked tomatoes, and just generally had a ball without any parents around.

The next week the parents arrived, along with the other two grandkids from Florida, so things really kicked into high gear! I tried to spent a little special time with each of them, but it's pretty hard with six kids ranging in age from four to twelve. The two boys are at the top and the bottom, and it was so nice to see how they bonded despite the difference in their ages.

Our campfire down by the creek is always a highlight of the week for the kids. I think I've had enough s'mores to last me until next year!

I hope your summer holiday has brought you some joyous time with family, as well.

Marta Perry