It Feels Like Football, Rich Paschall

While many consider the Labor Day weekend (which includes the first Monday of September) to be the beginning of Fall, others think of it as the last gasp of summer.  I prefer to think of it along the lines of the later.  That was much easier this year as that three-day stretch was among the hottest days we have had here in the Midwest all year.

Rushing the seasons is not on my list of things to do.  In fact, in a great upper Midwest tradition, I prefer to hang on to summer as long as possible.  After all, the season here is not long enough as it is.  Anyone who has been freezing in the upper deck of Wrigley Field in mid June will understand this completely.  We need our summer.

Those walking down the avenue in October and finding people in shorts and flip-flops will realize our desperate desire for a longer season of warmth.  We do not give up on the idea until the snow flies, which sometimes happens before Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November).  You have celebrated Thanksgiving in the snow, haven’t you?  No?  You live too far south.

Let the autumn come as it should, I guess, with the autumnal equinox (or the vernal equinox for you Latin scholars). This is the time when the sun appears directly overhead at the equator in its trip southward.  You know the equator, it is that line around the center of your globe.  You do have a globe, don’t you?

Photo Credit: Bill Paulino

Photo Credit: Bill Paulino

The sun is at it furthest point north on the first day of summer.  From there it is all downhill, or southward anyway.  When it crosses the centerline, this year on the 23rd of September, we reach autumn while the southern half of the earth begins the Springtime.  It is a unique astrological story that has the sun seem to move north to south and then back again when the sun really does not moves at all.  It just stays in one spot and burns people where its rays are strongest.  I would attempt to explain that apparent movement of the sun to you, but I will leave that to your astronomy professor.  You do have an astronomy professor, don’t you?  No, I do not mean your astrologist.

Each season has taken on a unique feel to me.  Winter is our indoor season, from the holidays to the spring.  We watch sports, read books and when the need arises, we shovel snow.  There are plenty of indoor activities to take up the time, whether you are a “homebody” or someone who likes to get out and enjoy your sports and entertainment away from home.

Spring feels like renewal.  It burst with a new energy that the return of our greenery brings.  Getting out and cleaning up the yard and “organizing the garden” is a joyous ritual.  I say organizing the garden because it has a life of its own.  I plant very little, but rather move things around and pull up the unwanted visitors (weeds).  Some “volunteer” plants appear in such numbers that some must be asked to leave to make room for the others.

Summer feels like baseball.  If you were in a city with two major league teams and surrounded by a few minor league teams within a short drive, you would understand this completely.  We long for the days when we can attend a baseball game and not have to wear a jacket (or winter coat).  We watch baseball at home, at sports bars and restaurants, at various social events.  Yes, it is still the national pastime.

Autumn feels like football. It is not because the National Football League is back in action.  For me, it is something more than that.  For decades it meant that it was time to get out the football and go to the park.  For a few years as a kid it was tackle football in a league, but for decades it was pick up games with friends in the park.  These were touch games rather than tackle, although our exuberance may have made the touching a little more “enthusiastic” some weeks.  I loved this feeling more than the others.  When I walk outside, feel the autumn air and see the leaves change color, and later fall to earth, I think of football.

What does the autumn “feel” like to you?  Does the change of season have a special feeling to you?  Does the Fall  weather invoke anything inside your memory banks?  Comment below, then pump up the football and gather up the gang for a game of two hand tag in the park.


Black & White Sunday: NATURAL

When I think of a challenge I intend it to be as broad and as specific as possible. This time the theme is NATURAL – it can be nature in general, human nature or anything in between.

What an interesting challenge from Paula!


last snow trees vertical winter

I have a variety of pictures, taken during the winter when snow-covered the ground, that are practically speaking, black and white. Naturally monochrome. That is the way the world actually looks in winter.

72-Glow-Snowy River-032015_32



It is beautiful, but it should be no surprise that we are all very grateful when the flowers return and there is color in the world again.


None of these pictures were stripped of color using software. This is the way the world looked at the time. This is winter in New England.


Monthly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons 05

sunlight on chestnut-st

In March we were buried under ten feet of snow. In April, it rained steadily every day and most nights for almost two weeks. When the rain stopped, the snow was gone. Or nearly.

And now — it’s May. Our world is full of flowers. The trees have baby leaves with a hint of gold. The magnolia and forsythia are blooming. Waiting time is over. From until winter comes again, are world is a riot of color, warm sunny days, shorts, tee shirts, and barbecue.


I live in the Blackstone Valley where no one tells you nothing. When weather people stand in the studio and do their predicting, they position themselves so you can see the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Except where we live because that’s where they stand.


I asked our friend, the trustworthy meteorologist (there is one and he is it) about this. He said, “Well, we have to stand somewhere.” But on his next broadcast, he moved aside for a few seconds so that I could see the map. Thanks!

When anyone mentions the valley at all, it’s Worcester. The rest of our towns don’t exist. I have learned to read weather maps because I’m not going to get information any other way. Dinosaurs could be roaming the Valley, and no one would notice unless one of them ate a tourist.


Now that we’re turning the corner to warm weather, I can take a deep breath and relax. It’s a quiet weather period, usually.

The past couple of months gave us a big dose of weather frenzy. Most of it was on the money, unlike previous winters when the frenzy exceeded reality by 100%, give or take a few points. I was numb from the hyperbole of previous years, so I ignored the warnings. When the first, huge blizzard hit at the end of January, we were unprepared. I hadn’t even bought extra groceries.


The frenzy isn’t harmless.

Weather sells. It pulls in viewers. When hurricanes or blizzards threaten, people who normally don’t watch the news tune in. Higher ratings, lots of teasers.

“Seven feet of snow on the way!! Will you be buried tomorrow? Story at 11!” It’s money in the bank. Doom is a perennial best-seller.


TV stations like to whip everyone into a frenzy. It’s good business. Weather predictions don’t carry issues of journalistic responsibility. No one can call you to task for being wrong because, after all, it’s the weather.

The frenzy is not harmless. Every weather event is presented as if it’s the end of the world. It’s impossible to figure out if this next thing is serious or more of the same.

Should we lay in supplies? Ignore it? Plan to evacuate? Fill all the water containers? Cancel travel plans? Make travel plans? Head for public shelters?


Hysteria is exhausting and worse, it’s numbing. Some of us worry about the possibility of weeks without electricity. Telling us our world is ending is upsetting if you believe it. It is even more dangerous if it’s serious, and we don’t believe it.

They shouldn’t say that stuff unless it’s true. Or might be true. At the least, it’s rude to scare us to death, and then say “Sorry folks.”

You can’t unring the bell. When the real deal occurs — as it did this winter — we don’t listen. Weather forecasting may not be legally subject to standards or accuracy, but maintaining credibility might be worthwhile. I’m just saying, you know?


It is spring. The calendar is unequivocal.

Spring has officially been here for nearly three weeks. Sure enough, if you look carefully, you can see the signs. Crocuses in the garden. Fat buds on trees and vines.

Our back garden is full of day lily shoots. They have a lot of growing to do before they bloom — a month or more — but they’re coming up thick and fast. It’s going to be a bonanza year for day lilies. I hope their enthusiasm is contagious.

This past weekend, the temperatures soared. The sun came out and stayed out.


And we emerged.  Winter-pale, wearing crumpled shorts and tee shirts pulled from the bottom of drawers in which they have lain since last October. Squinting in the strong sunlight. Winter is finally over. We won!

Hauling cameras and fishing poles, kayaks and canoes. Picnic baskets. Umbrellas and lawn blankets. With small frisky dogs in tow.

It was the first sunny Sunday after the worst-ever winter.

No leaves yet on the trees. Nor were any flowers — wild or cultivated — to be seen. There is a world of hope for more sunny days and weeks stretching ahead. It’s the beginning. Never have we deserved it more.