Color of Autumn

OrangeZinnia

Grandma called them Old Maids.

Grown by her back porch,

coming inside to bunch in a Mason jar

or dry for next year’s seeds.

She let me pick the ones I wanted.

I loved them because they were pretty.

In our back yard is a row of tiny ones,

smaller than Grandma’s Old Maids,

more color in our flowers than our leaves

in South Texas Autumn.

Nora picks this one for me.

She loves it because it is pretty

Saying Grace

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Most days begin with prayer and thanksgiving – for years now I have kept a gratitude journal.  This reminds me to focus on all the everyday ordinary blessings I receive as grace.  When we gather for a meal as a family, we hold hands and give thanks for our food. Nora calls this our “Maymen.”  The table is the same one I mention below in an excerpt from my blog post in 2014.

I am remembering childhood meals around my Terrell grandparent’s table in Smith County, Texas. There were hearty breakfasts with farm fresh eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy,  dinners (at lunchtime) that often included  peas and tomatoes from their garden and an iron skillet of cornbread cut into wedges.There were suppers, often the same food reheated or a bowl of soup, and Sunday dinners after church. There were holiday meals at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas where the table and kitchen were both filled with chicken and dressing or a ham, plus those garden fresh vegetables which had been put up into canning jars. To follow, there would be an assortment of sweets – cookies, sweet potato, pecan, and mince pies, and often a pound cake. The food and occasion might vary, but there was always the same beginning: This, too, was something I could count on.  Papa Terrell would say grace. Today we may say a blessing or give thanks, but he always said grace.  The words were always the same, and rattled off so quickly I could never understand them.  But his posture spoke to my heart with no need for words.  Over 70 years later, now I see him clearly in my mind:  gray head bent forward and bowed in humility.

“We offer grace at table as a form of waiting with confidence…reciting such a prayer is sometimes referred to as a way of preparing to receive all that has been granted to us. We offer grace in amazement that even the good things we have rejected are being offered again. And then we eat, and the food meets an earthly need of our souls, and we are made whole.” – Cynthia Rigby, W.C. Brown Professor of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary*

For me, the calendar days designated to Thanksgiving are a wonderful approach to  beginning of Advent exactly because of this waiting with confidence…preparing to receive all that has been granted to us. Our family will gather once again around the old oak table, the very same one that Grandma loaded with food and where Papa said grace.

October

chrysanthemum

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!      ~Humbert Wolfe

October in South Texas brings welcome change, but not only from summer heat. The mornings this week have been cool, heavy mist rises from the lake, sunrise is coming later, and pecans are falling from the trees. There are only slight changes in the green of the woods, but the thing I notice first is the way the light changes. It sifts through leaves and falls more softly, dappling and dancing.  Chrysanthemums and marigolds color faded flower beds like mini sunsets.

 

 

Autumn’s Gift

jenleavesLast fall my niece Jen sent me these 2 lovely autumn leaves.  She lives in New Jersey, so autumn puts on a more colorful show there than we get on the South Texas Gulf Coast. They arrived in perfect condition and I pressed them between the pages of my gratitude journal. This week I smiled with pleasure when the leaves fell again –  out into my lap. I texted her a thank you. It was as if they waited until the calendar said go for their repeat performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey Home

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Two days ago I traveled home to the Autumn woods of East Texas. There we celebrated the life and final home-going of my brother-in-law.

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Color left the trees and bled into the sky as we turned south to head home.

 

 

City lights and sights say “welcome home.”

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“Life’s a voyage that’s homeward bound.”

Herman Melville

 

 

Saying Grace

IMG_1063                      Our entire Satsuma harvest – but the tree is very small.
                                 
 As we move toward the end of November, our garden is a reminder of things that can be counted on: Gulf Coast Muhly fronds mound up like pink froth.   Satsumas are ready for harvest, Meyer lemons are hanging ready on the tree, the last of our okra and tender herbs fade as the first frost comes. Marigolds, chrysanthemums and calendula bloom gold and copper. Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  We will gather friends and family and favorite foods at full tables.

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Marigolds

I am remembering childhood meals around my Terrell grandparent’s table in Smith County, Texas. There were hearty breakfasts with farm fresh eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy,  dinners (at lunchtime) that often included  peas and tomatoes from their garden and an iron skillet of cornbread cut into wedges.There were suppers, often the same food reheated or a bowl of soup, and Sunday dinners after church. There were holiday meals at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas where the table and kitchen were both filled with chicken and dressing or a ham, plus those garden fresh vegetables which had been put up into canning jars. To follow, there would be an assortment of sweets – cookies, sweet potato, pecan, and mince pies, and often a pound cake. The food and occasion might vary, but there was always the same beginning: This, too, was something I could count on.  Papa Terrell would say grace. Today we may say a blessing or give thanks, but he always said grace.  The words were always the same, and rattled off so quickly I could never understand them.  But his posture spoke to my heart with no need for words.  Over 70 years later, now I see him clearly in my mind:  gray head bent forward and bowed in humility.

“We offer grace at table as a form of waiting with confidence…reciting such a prayer is sometimes referred to as a way of preparing to receive all that has been granted to us. We offer grace in amazement that even the good things we have rejected are being offered again. And then we eat, and the food meets an earthly need of our souls, and we are made whole.” – Cynthia Rigby, W.C. Brown Professor of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary*

For me, the calendar days designated to Thanksgiving are a wonderful approach to  beginning of Advent exactly because of this waiting with confidence…preparing to receive all that has been granted to us. Our family will gather once again around the old oak table, the very same one that Grandma loaded with food and where Papa said grace.

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Pink Gulf Coast Muhly, a coastal grass

*as quoted by Wayne Slater in DallasNews, a Texas Faith Blog

Clinging

hear November whisper and sing

rain drops and ball moss cling

morning light holds onto night

a few brown leaves hang on tight

I linger like these  and pray

reluctant to busy my day

yet still, yet silent

clinging

 

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