Seasons

There’s been a little snow here early this fall after weeks of wet cold, and now late October warm sunshine.  As the season progresses, I’m progressing toward retirement.  I selected a last workday, and turned in a letter to make the retirement official.  It is a really difficult decision to walk away from students and long-term coworkers.  I’m hopeful that it’s the right time to finish this  part of my life and move on to the next stage.

Today  was a good day to scurry around finishing fall chores.  My son built a horse feeder that will make it easy for me to feed the horses this winter.  He is also sawing and splitting enough wood for me to make it through the coldest part of winter.

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The summer garden produced potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and turnips.  Tomato cages are cleaned and stacked in the garden shed.  I hauled dead tomato vines, pruned branches, and frosted pepper plants to a compost pile. The warm-season part of the garden is finished for the year.

However, the fall lettuce crop is doing great.  Chard keeps its brilliant color through cold nights. There are also volunteer cilantro and dill plants that survived the early snow.

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Harvesting fall veggies made all the summer work worthwhile.  I expect retirement to give me more days to play in the garden.  Gosh, maybe I’ll have time to start garden plants from seed next year. https://www.seedsavers.org/starting-seeds

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onions & potatoes

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carrots

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turnips

 

 

High Summer

It’s late July, high summer season for garden  harvests, flowers and mosquitos.  It’s also the general timeline I gave myself to make a retirement decision.  I can busy myself picking green beans,  husking sweet corn and pruning flower beds to avoid difficult decisions.  It’s been a great year for green beans.  This is an early harvest.

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Plentiful rain results in beautiful flowers.

IMG_20180708_211918_073 The flowers are pretty even when shared with another of Mother Nature’s creatures.

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Tending to nature’s bounty is a peaceful way to consider options.  Time on the lake fishing is another kind of peace.  My pole’s in the water on a foggy morning.

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This view and the cover photo are of Lake Oahe in South Dakota. http://sdmissouririver.com/follow-the-river/the-four-lakes-and-dams/lake-oahe/

Birds

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Sandhill Cranes gather by the thousands along the Platte River this time of year.  Even on a overcast grey morning, it’s an amazing sight to see the islands formed in the river from sleeping crane families.  As they fly from the river, it’s often in large groups.  If you want to learn more about cranes, read the book about cranes by Paul A. Johnsgard, with photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen. It is called A chorus of Cranes, published by the University Press of Colorado.

DSC05090The cranes feed in fields along the Platte during the day, then return to the river at night.

Two years ago, I visited a Prairie Chicken lek in northern Nebraska.  It was another early morning wait in a photography blind for the birds to wake up and begin their mating dance.  Most of the people in the blind were professional photographers with amazing cameras, but I captured a few pictures of male Prairie Chickens showing off for the gals.

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Weather permitting, I hope to see the mating dance of the Sharp-tailed Grouse this weekend.    When I’m  home, I watch Doves, Blue Jays, Finches, and Woodpeckers eat from the birdfeeder outside my kitchen window.  Bird watching is way for me to chart the season’s changes.  I find peace in Mother Nature’s company, at home, or in a bird’s backyard.

 

No Closer

It was a wonderful spring break in Nashville, TN and Ashville, NC. The Smokey Mountains are beautiful.  I’ve returned home to a snow-covered landscape and below-freezing temperatures.  As the landscape here at home is covered in white, my decision-making is obscured in fog.  I hoped to make some progress toward my retirement decision during vacation, but I used the week away as an excuse to avoid thinking seriously about anything.

I enjoyed southern food, and visited many beautiful historic sites.

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The cemetery at Andrew Jackson’s historic home, The Hermitage, has an impressive garden dedicated to Mrs. Jackson.  The garden is already blooming in early March.

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Mrs. Jackson’s burial site is near the garden.  I hope to think more clearly when it’s warm enough to putter in my own garden.

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Rush Before Leaving

Spring is out there somewhere south of Nebraska.  I’m going in search of that elusive season on March 1st.  There has been and continues to be a flurry of events to organize and/or attend, appointments to keep, and chores to do before I leave.

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I like to keep early morning set aside to work on poems and short stories, but today, find my  head full of lists to be checked, bags to pack, and arrangements to make  before I leave. The trip will give me a chance to recharge and reflect.

Pickles the sheepdog will stay in town with family, the house and barn cats will rely on kindness of others to come by and feed them regularly.  Horses will get their hay and oats while I’m away.  The automatic waterer is a wonder for all.

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If planning for a week’s vacation is a major undertaking, I’m trying to imagine how to plan for retirement.  How do I capture all of the details in my head and transfer them to paper for the next person, or will it matter?  Will supervisors re-write my job description?  Will the organization decide not to replace my position?  How will I manage my time without a daily schedule?  Many questions, but few answers.

The closer it comes to my self-imposed decision time, the more difficult it feels to know what to do.  After a successful student-planned dinner last weekend, the club officers have selected dates for the next three years of dinners.  This group of students are a lot of fun.  I will miss them.  However, I can’t base my retirement decision on them alone.

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A week away will help me review my options.

Antiques

I learned sad news about two of my favorite antiques stores when I met a friend for lunch recently.    One  store was already closed with all the merchandise gone, and another posted Going out of Business signs in the window.  These stores had their heyday ten or fifteen years ago when everyone wanted to own a piece of the past.  The past was defined as eighty to one hundred years old.  Shoppers were  mid-fifties and older.

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We collected furniture, dishes and doodads from our grandparent’s generation.  I rarely see unique items to add to my collections anymore. This scarcity tells me that all the good pieces are already sold or no one cares about that type of miscellany today.  I’m also more selective about adding items that will be difficult to sell or give away later.

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There aren’t many estates of that era left to re-sell as antiques.  As the antique store owners have aged, the shoppers  have aged with them.    Many folks downsize into smaller houses or condos at retirement and stop collecting.

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Collectors today are in their thirties and forties and what they seek is mid-century modern furnishing or stylized patterns.  The mid-century items remind them of their grandparents.

My near-retirement age dates me more like an antique than some items for sale.  

Butterflies

Flowers are covered with Painted Ladies and Monarchs in August and September.  They stop to drink their fill before moving south.  Many linger through October’s warm afternoons, but are gone, like the flowers, before November’s chill. I envy them.  I often wish I could migrate south during the cold months, too.  Maybe someday…