The first day of fall is rapidly approaching and I, like so many others, am left wondering where this year has gone. The warm feeling of accomplishment is still very much at odds with our aggravating disappointment with items not checked off of our annual to do list. The first hints of fall are about us as the night air reminds us that soon enough, winter will signal the end of another of nature’s cycles of life. Let’s have a look at what is left of 2018 and how to use the rest of this tumultuous year.
One of my closest friends is quietly watching his wife as she enters her final days on this earth. I deeply admire his courage as he quietly accepts the inevitable end of a long relationship with his trusted companion of many years. I am reminded of just how fortunate I am to count this man among my closest of friends and am, at the same time, frustrated at my inability to offer very little in terms of comfort as this transition occurs. Their situation reminds me that we all have this experience to negotiate, a sobering thought for my generation. We should use our time wisely.
The political season is upon us, and soon will be relegated to history. Thank God. I have never seen such rancor and hatred as what we are experiencing today. Instant communication, through social media as well as traditional media has left much of America reeling. It is difficult, if not impossible, to wade through the sea of lies, half truths, innuendo and half baked nonsense we are being exposed to endlessly. My favorite refrain these days is quite simply “somebody’s lying”. We must be awfully easy to influence and I long for the days when folks like Ike Skelton and Harold Caskey were running things. It was always an interesting day in our state capital when you visited with Senator Caskey, a bulldog of a man who was principled and direct. Ike was equally principled and both of these gentlemen were motivated by public service, checking personal agendas at the door. No media influence could possible dissuade a voter, either for or against these kinds of folks, irrespective of where your loyalties might lie.
For the first time in decades, I am not fascinated with the prospects of deer hunting and catching a limit of fat crappies for the freezer. It is unbelievably hard to cross an arm of Truman Lake and note a bass boat as it passes under the bridge driven by an angler who is grinning in anticipation of a day on the water. This evolution is the result of advancing arthritis, which makes handling a bass boat less than pleasant. The folks who purchased my Ranger sent me a photograph of them fishing on Truman and I damn neared choked as I looked at it. As for hunting, I still regard the hunt as one of the noblest of sports but have lost interest in killing critters. Even so, my memories are wonderful and I wish my hunting friends well. Another thumb surgery late this fall will hopefully take some of the pain out of my left hand as it has already done in my right thumb. Modern medicine is incredible and the prospect of another cold winter is creating an urgency to get this done, even though hand surgeries are no fun. Winter seems like a good time to become a one handed coffee drinker!
Sharon and I are counting the days until the first frost signals the necessity to drive across US 24 in Lafayette county where I patrolled as a brand new trooper. The heavenly smell of apple orchards provided the backdrop for many fall days in those years. A perfect day was marked by a coffee stop, followed by a roadside check visiting with the good people of Lafayette County while geese sang their song as they migrated south. If it gets any better than that, please drop me a note so that I can experience it.
Our river tested canoe is now back in Springfield, having spent several years reposing at a friends business in Osage Beach. Few activities rival a fall float on one of our rivers and we will soon load Tazzy for such a trip. If you have never done so, please take the time to rent a conveyance and give this activity a try. It is impossible to describe the peace you feel under a towering bluff on one of our clear streams on a fall day, after the summer crowds have dissipated. Floating is easy on the hands and even easier on your mind!
Another of my friends recently published a picture of his work canning tomatoes and making home-made jelly. The vibrant color reminds me it is time to peruse the various markets for year end produce and similarly canned products. Urban living pretty well precludes a garden, but I remember the satisfaction derived from growing and preserving your own produce. This is yet another fall activity that I dearly miss, taking me back to years when this was not just fun, but was also a necessity. It is a beautiful fall tradition.
In a few short days, fall will be officially upon us. We should be thankful the Master has given us yet another year to close out gracefully. We have all lost friends and relatives, as my good friend is doing as I write, and we should not waste this opportunity to show appreciation by smiling and moving about our great country. We must refuse to let the hatred that is consuming us as a nation crush our optimism and anticipation of the fall season. My generation, by now, should be well aware that we are promised a limited supply of beautiful fall days.
The seasons are changing……..