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.


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.


Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge: 2015 Week #14


It’s raining again. It has been raining for more than a week and will continue to rain for a few days more. Actually, to be entirely accurate, it’s a mixture of sleet, hail, and rain. Nasty.


This make it a perfect time to post pictures of driving in rain. I might mention, at this point, that both my husband and I very much dislike driving in rain and I’m afraid to drive in snow.


If you use headlights, they reflect back and you can’t see anything. But of course, if you don’t turn on your lights, no one can see you coming. Also dangerous.




When I woke up around dawn Saturday morning, it was drizzling. As it had been, off and on, for several days. I went back to bed. Too early for anything useful. The next time I woke up, a couple of hours later, big fat snowflakes were drifting from the sky. Not a serious snow.

last snow bark winter

If I have learned nothing else, it is how to tell the difference between snow that means business, and those casually drifting snow flakes which will evaporate when they touch ground. I went back to bed. Again.

72-Last snow_17

When finally I got up and it was time for coffee and the day to begin, the snow had changed again. Finer flakes, but now mixed with a hint of rain. Still not serious.

72-Cat-Last snow_20

And so it has continued for several hours. Not enough snow to make a statement. It is just winter lodging a formal protest against being forced to leave.

Sorry about that, old man winter. You’ve out-stayed your welcome. There’s a new weather deity in town and she brings flowers and warmer weather. Pack your bags and go wherever you are supposed to be.

last snow low contrast winter

This is, I am convinced, the last snow. We will see no more of it until the seasons roll around again. It’s not that we haven’t seen snow later than this.

I remember a 28 inch blizzard on April 1st that was (no surprise) dubbed “The April Fool’s Blizzard.” It came, dumped more than two feet on Boston, then melted in a couple of days of 70 degree temperatures. I’m told there have been surprise snowstorms as late as mid May. But not this year.


This is the last snow of this winter. I have decided.



72-birds in the bush_002

Slowly, the ice and snow is melting. Very slowly. Huge piles of frozen slush. The birds are still hanging around and we have had a bit of additional fluffy snow.


Nothing serious, not enough to cover the ground that is finally exposed. The birds have been pecking away at the ground.


I’m sure they are very happy to find some live food, some green. Even if it is just moss.

72-birds in the bush_024