Jazzmin Afternoons

Jazzmin standing watch over me.

Jazzmin standing watch over me.

My favorite ways to enjoy autumn are by taking walks with Jazzmin to save caterpillars and by laying my old comforter out in the lawn to soak up the remaining fall scenery and warmth. The past two afternoons have been quite lovely here so Jazz and I have been relaxing in the yard watching the clouds roll by, listening to birds and watching butterflies. Jazzmin mostly listens for chipmunks and squirrels and sniffs the leaves but she will eventually lay with me on the blanket.

Watching and listening to the birds in the autumn is a learning experience. The goldfinches have lost all their bright, yellow and black feathers and are back to their dismal greenish-yellow color. They’re still adorable just not as vibrant. I hear them peeping all day long as they gather in little flocks to prepare for winter. Some of the finches go south and some stay in the area. I leave my bird feeders up year round to make sure they always have a place to find food.

Goldfinches gathered among the bare branches of a black walnut tree.

Goldfinches gathered among the bare branches of a black walnut tree.

Yesterday as I was laying on the blanket I watched two little finches land on the wire above my head. When they first landed they were about two feet apart. They were peeping and chirping at each other and eventually one moved closer to the other. They were soon sitting side by side and they snuck a quick little beak kiss that made me smile. It was almost as if they were saying “I’m looking forward to snuggling with you this winter.” I thought it was a rather sweet gesture.

A sweet pair of goldfinches on the wire.

A sweet pair of goldfinches on the wire.

Today the finches were still flying around in their little flocks but they weren’t my main focus. I spotted a cardinal hopping around in the lilac bush behind my girls’ swingset. He must have been a young male cardinal because it sounded as if he was still learning how to sing their usual “pretty pretty pretty” call. He kept starting it and testing it out but the notes were somewhat choppy and off pitch. I imagine he wants to get it just right before trying to court a lady cardinal. Good thing he has all winter to practice!

There was also a chickadee making quite a ruckus in the hedgerow. I walked over to investigate thinking my cat Owl was bothering him but she was nowhere to be seen. I watched the little chickadee chirp and fuss and hop among the branches and I eventually realized he was eating bugs off the leaves. He was extremely efficient at it and had a great work ethic and I was impressed. Chickadees are my favorite little birds and they’re always the first to find any new feeders I hang up. I hope someday to get one to eat out of my hand but it hasn’t happened yet.

I know how lucky I am that I can relax outside in the sunshine during my work breaks. I missed far too many falls being stuck inside and while I can’t get them back, I can make the most of my Jazzmin afternoons beneath the vast, blue sky.

Falling Too Fast

Autumn is my favorite season but it comes and goes far too fast! One day the leaves are all green, the next day they’re changing and the day after that they start falling. It’s pretty to watch the leaves fall but I do wish they could stick themselves back up on the branches rather than letting the tree go bare. I don’t like the stark, leafless trees of winter.

I’ve been trying to enjoy this season as much as possible. When I have my girls we play outside. Jaycie swings or plays her favorite new game that involves throwing our smaller hula hoop up into the tree. She’s only gotten it stuck once so far. Jordan and I spread out my big burgundy, white and green comforter and lay on it in the sun. I hook Jazz up to her lead by the tree and she sniffs around at the various squirrel trails. Jordan eventually wanders off in search of small sticks and leaves to make a mini-kite a mouse might use and I usually flip through Northshore Magazine and House Beautiful trying to spark writing ideas.

When I don’t have the girls I have to catch up on my freelance writing. The most time I spend outdoors is walking Jazz or mowing the lawn. Now and then I’ll take a break and walk around my yard but mostly I’m inside with the windows open wishing I had more time to be out in the fall air. I still get to enjoy the weather and seasons more than I ever did working an office job so it’s really not all bad.

Today wasn’t the nicest of fall days. It rained off and on and was mostly cloudy with tons of humidity. I managed to squeeze a walk in with Jazz this afternoon and we only got sprinkled on a little bit. Looking down the road I was amazed to see how much color there was and how many leaves had already fallen. I rather wish the season would slow down a bit because I’m not looking forward to winter and the onset of cabin fever. I only saw one woolly bear caterpillar but I happily saved him. He was a brave one and crawled along my hand before I set him gently in the grass on the other side of the road.

The days are growing shorter but thankfully the weather has been extremely nice lately. Not hot enough to need to run the air conditioning and not cold enough to need the furnace. I always appreciate lower utility bills! It’s a bit too cool to leave the windows open at night but the fresh air from the day lingers inside even after I close them. I’m going to take it all in for as long as I can because autumn, as always, is falling too fast.

Sunday in the Grass

While most of my neighbors were out busily mowing their grass today, I was out laying in it with my daughters. It was a nice sunny afternoon and with the cooler temperature there’s less bugs. Jordan helped me spread out the big, old comforter I always have in the back of my car and we all stretched out on it in the sun. As Mama Nature loves to mess with me the sun soon disappeared behind a large mass of clouds. It was still a nice day though so we stayed outside.

There was sun when we came out...

There was sun when we came out…

Jordan eventually wandered off in search of sticks and grass to weave into some sort of project. Jaycie rolled up half of the blanket like a little pea pod and I laid on my back looking up at the sky of clouds. The clouds were a dense blanket and there weren’t any discernible bunny, dog or flower shapes to pick out but it was still lovely. The roar of the neighbors’ mowers eventually subsided and the only sounds were the birds and bugs. Jazz was tied out nearby and she flopped down in the grass to enjoy the fresh air.

Jaycie the peapod

Jaycie the pea pod

Peaking out Jaycie

Peaking out Jaycie

There were lots of small butterflies fluttering around enjoying the sunshine and sipping on clover nectar. Honey bees and bumblebees were buzzing around the goldenrod gathering pollen on their back legs until they could barely move. They’re rather lucky they’re not allergic to goldenrod because my girls and I certainly are. Some days my eyes, throat and ears itch so bad I want to scream but instead I just sneeze, blow my nose and vow to remember my allergy pill at night. Even so, I’ll take this nice fall weather over the unspeakable season that comes after it.

Jordan trying to uncover Jaycie

Jordan trying to uncover Jaycie

Jordan trying to roll her sister up like a burritto

Jordan trying to roll her sister up like a burritto

I could have mowed today or trimmed my front bushes but I just wasn’t in the mood. Sunday doesn’t feel like a day that should be spent sweating and swearing doing yard work. I’ll tackle those chores later this week, they’ll still be waiting. Sundays are for sleeping in, making the girls pancakes from scratch for breakfast, hanging out in pajamas for too long, mixing up delicious apple cinnamon muffins for snacks and laying in the grass enjoying the autumn breeze. I did all that and I don’t feel like I’ve wasted the day. The slower moments count just as much as the busy ones.