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Autumnal equinox 2023

Been a little while since my last post – it has been a bit busy. It is now late September and the first day of Autumn. The farewell to summer is mostly calendar-based right now, more than anything else. While today’s weather here in RI is cool and rainy, we will have plenty of hot and sunny days yet to come, coupled with cool nights – wonderful for sleeping. But the change is underway, calendar notwithstanding.

If you are an astute observer of nature, the signs of the change have been apparent for several weeks. The ferns tell a tale as they begin their personal journey to a winter’s slumber. The birds have also made it clear that a turn is approaching, with some already having departed for their winter vacation in the warmth of the south. The most distinctive sign for most people are the leaves of the trees, and some early achievers have been proudly demonstrating their brilliant autumnal colors weeks early. Fall is at our doorstep.

Since I last posted, we thoroughly enjoyed our daily care of our 2yo grandson for two weeks up until his mom gave birth to her second child – my fifth grandchild. Baby girl Charlotte arrived happy and healthy and is now in her second week of life. Teddy has embraced his new role as big brother as best a two-year old can and the entire family is doing great.

On the other side of my family, my son and his family are doing great up in Maine. By son is learning a new trade as an electrician building boats. The three kids are back in school and my daughter in law has picked up where she left off here with her amazing nail painting/decorating. They are pioneers right now, of sorts, as they have no home. They have land, currently being prepared for a foundation concrete pour. Their new home should be ready for occupancy before Halloween. In the interim, they have been living in a trailer in the yard of my nephew. The trailer is brand new and he graciously invited them to live in it until their home was built. This is month three in it and despite the cramped quarters, they are all doing fantastic.

I haven’t seen them since mid-August, about a month now, and I surely do miss them. They may come down to see baby Charlotte, but given the chaos of building the new house, it may not happen. If we don’t see this month, we will be heading up to Maine for my sister-in-law’s annual Halloween party and will definitely see our kids/grandkids then. And….I seriously hope that they will be able to come down for our annual party the last weekend in October.

Tradition is funny, it usually begins with some random and often unremarkable happening that, one repeated, suddenly becomes a regular thing, whether monthly or annually or whatever. As an example, for as long as my first grandson could walk, I’ve taken him to a Spirit Halloween store once they open. And the same with my second, and third grandkids. And we didn’t just go once, sometimes we would go every Saturday right up to Halloween! I will do so with Teddy as well, maybe this year but definitely next. And suddenly, Spirit Halloween is a tradition. So far in the last week, two of my three grandkids have texted me and asked about going to Spirit Halloween. Tradition.

My hiking has been a little curtailed by day care and the weather, but I have still gotten out. I hit the trails six times in July and four times in August. So far I have three hikes in this month and I will certainly get one or two more, but probably not this weekend with heavy rain forecast through Monday. But I may still be able to sneak one in between the raindrops tomorrow…and will surely get out on Wednesday. I am at 260.5 miles on trail so far this year and hope to hit 300 before year’s end.

My last hike was a personal distance record for me: 20.7 miles. And not an easy 20 miles either – mostly done on trails that are at least somewhat challenging with around 1500’ of total elevation. And while my pace was not blistering (by any stretch of the imagination) it was decent coming in around 22 minutes per miles average as I recall, with several splits under 20 minutes, so a decent pace considering the distance.

I had fully intended to hit the 20 mile mark on a hike this year – I had done 14’s, 16’s, and even an 18 mile hike in preparation. But I planned on doing in deeper into the fall like Oct-Nov. I wanted cool temps because going that far in the heat can be really taxing, especially at my age. And to go that far you need a lot of time, something that can be difficult in the fall due to the earlier sunsets – you end up finishing in the dark. But as the day went on and the miles began to accumulate, I realized that 20 miles was within my grasp so I just kept hiking and was able to hit my mark. I am not sure I will try for another record this year – maybe as time and weather permit.

I had a large oak taken down earlier this year and have cut and split most all of it; I have some left yet to split but I am saving that for this imminently cooler weather. One wood pile is fully replenished and ready, while my second pile is only about 25% filled. But that’s OK because I have well over a cord already split and stacked down in the back where I do all my splitting waiting to be hauled up to restock the pile. I’ll get that done over the next couple of weeks and then will finish splitting the remaining logs and restock the big pile for next year. Free heat – sort of….. lots of “cost” by means of labor, but even that cost has a reward in physical exercise.

Speaking of wood – using some now; first fire on the first day of fall! It is raining and in the 50’s this afternoon and my wife is freezing. I am, as usual, in cargo shorts and a tee shirt, but I get it – it is a bit on the cool side. So grabbed some wood and started the “free” heat. To be honest, I still haven’t taken the woodstove apart and fully cleaned it from last season, but there will still be plenty of time for that over the next few weeks.

I hope your first day of fall is sunny and warm and that you got outside to enjoy it. Stay well dear reader!

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