Wednesday, November 30, 2022


It's the holly jolly holiday season. And everywhere, from up on the roof tops to down on the lawns, inside and outside, people are scurrying to decorate their homes. This is the time of the  year when I enjoy looking at the many different wreaths hanging on the doors of homes and businesses. They are colorful, artistic and varied, and are often constructed with evergreens, grape vines, or holly which are then adorned with pine cones, ribbons, bells, shiny glass balls, berries, and bows. But where did the tradition of hanging a wreath on a door for Christmas originate? Although there are many theories, it’s believed the wreath came with the Irish when they immigrated to the United States.

The wreath itself can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome when people employed decorative wreaths as a sign of victory and celebration. Bay laurel wreaths crowned victorious athletes at the original Olympic Games. They are also used in ceremonial events in many other cultures around the world.

In English-speaking countries, wreaths are typically used as household ornaments, mainly as an Advent and Christmas decoration. They are also utilized in funerals and the laying of wreaths in memory of those who have died. When harvest season arrives, they are hung to celebrate the start of fall and the hopes for abundant crops.

Wreaths have centuries of  history and symbolism associated with them. During the Christmas season, many of these ornamental circles are made from branches from evergreen trees and shrubs which symbolize the strength of life overcoming the forces of winter, since evergreens can last throughout the harshest elements.

The shape of a circle has no beginning and no ending. It is thought that this may represent the eternal nature of a god's love, or the circle of life.

Do you hang a wreath on your door? If not, what do you do to decorate for the holiday season?

JUNE ~ The Pianist

(Book 1 of the Musical Christmas Series)

Monday, October 31, 2022

NOVEMBER - Transitioning to Winter

It’s Novemberour transition into winter. Bare tree limbs shiver in stiff winds. Wayward leaves scurry across the chilly ground, and clouds gather in gray skies. Inside, people search closets and drawers for wool and flannel clothing, and warm shoes and boots.

It’s the time when everyone dashes outside to get their homes battened down and ready for the first snows to fly. The bushes and trees have been trimmed, and perennial plants are leveled to the ground for a spring rebirth. Leaves from trees, now drab brown, wet, or maybe crispy and dry, have been raked or swept up in lawn mowers. In our small development here in Central Pennsylvania, when one mower roared to life, another followed shortly, and the race was on to see which house finished first.

November brings back many memories from childhood in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I remember school days when we watched out the windows in our classrooms to look for the first snowflakes. For farm kids, snow meant outside fun as we rode sleds, shovels or saucers down a slippery slope. There were outside chores, too. Clearing snow from the front porch, sidewalk, back steps and entrance were unspoken activities after every storm. Almost daily, we hauled stacks of wood from outside into our cellar to dry and feed our hungry, wood-fired furnace.                                     

I loved our cellar furnace. The light sweet smoky smell of wood still reminds me of a toasty warmed-by- air ducts ending at metal floor registers above. In high school and before bedtime, I would find a register, grab a blanket and wrap it tent-like around me to trap the heat while I did my homework.

And I’ll never forget the tasty winter foods of November. Falling temperatures brought warmer hearty dishes to our table—roasts, ham, meatloaf, stuffed cabbage, and stews, to name a few. Delicious scents from homemade soups like chicken noodle, beet, creamy potato, or vegetable beef wafted through the rooms. Hot chocolate, cider, tea, and coffee made winter meals even more savory and inviting. Thanksgiving was a feast. If we didn’t have a turkey, we enjoyed a chicken or roast. Mother froze or canned every imaginable vegetable, so cranberries were our only purchased item for the holidays.

As the eleventh month of the year, November can rightfully boast it’s the transition from fall to winter. It also announces we are approaching the end of the year. For children who love and wait for winter, it's so much more as they ask the curious and often blissful question swirling in their heads and hearts—will it snow today?  

JUNE ~ The Pianist

(Book 1 of the Musical Christmas Series)

Saturday, October 1, 2022

OCTOBER'S PARTY - by Poet George Cooper

American poet George Cooper (May 14, 1840– September 26, 1927) was remembered chiefly for his song lyrics, many set to music by Stephen Foster. He translated the lyrics of German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and French musical works into English to become songs. He is also best known for one of my favorite autumn poems, “October’s Party.” Many school children have heard or learned to recite the lyrics.

OCTOBER’S PARTY                          

October gave a party;                                             
The leaves by hundreds came—
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around." 

JUNE ~ The Pianist
(Book 1 of the Musical Christmas Series)


Wednesday, August 31, 2022


              "By all these lovely tokens, September days are here.
              With summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.”
                                                                – Helen Hunt Jackson 

Magical September has arrived. She waltzes in with her cooler temperatures and autumn splendor.  

Let’s remember to:
  • Admire September’s magical sunsets and the harvest moon.
  • Enjoy the beauty of goldenrod along our roadways.
  • Appreciate the last green leaves before Jack Frost hauls out his paint box.
  • Take a few minutes to watch the rolling fog lift itself from the land.
  • Drink a glass of refreshing apple cider.
  • Call a friend and grab lunch to share in the fall merriment.

If I were to ponder the summer of 2022 and all its finery, I’d have to admit we had a hot humid season
with temperatures rolling upward near ninety degrees many days. But a sizzling summer has its positive points. Hot summers are for taking a nap, or finding the perfect spot to relax and chill, or eating ice cream, or enjoying your favorite summer sport.

Central Pennsylvania received just enough rain to encourage every weed in our flowerbeds to flourish. I grew a horse weed plant taller than I am. I filled buckets with purslane, plantain, dandelion, dollar weed, quack grass and clover. Humid conditions during the day and hot muggy nights encouraged white mold on many plants’ leaves, but our ferns went crazy, loving the humidity. Ironically, my tomato plants were stubbornly lazy and didn’t produce as well as they had in other years.

But now, it’s time to watch September spin its magic as it blows a farewell kiss to August. Hummingbirds disappear. Acorns plummet to the earth with a plop. Milkweed pods burst open and send tiny seeds sailing into the air on fluffy floss. Pleasing scents fill the air: smoky fires, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg, roasts in the oven, and apple pie.

September is also jacket weather on cool nights. Dry leaves rustle beneath our feet; and overhead, geese honk a good-bye as they wing their way south. In many northern states, September delivers the first frost of the season and signals autumn is approaching.

Do you have a favorite sign of the upcoming season? Share it with others in the comments below. And watch out for those falling acorns!