Blink and it will all be long gone

Don’t even blink, or everything will be gone.

That fire-red inferno of a maple tree now ablaze in the front yard will be naked.

That birch tree whose fallen foliage will have already made a golden circular skirt on the still-green grass and its bared white arms will plead for a blanket of snow.

Blinding

That silver maple will have miraculously turned to gold which is actually blinding in the morning sun and again when the sun goes down in the west.

Around the pond, the display of goldenrod and purple New England asters is fading every day. The trees in the back fencerow are thinning and I am forced to look at buildings. Frost has twice whitened the pasture and there was a dusting of snow.

Robins have already almost stripped the fruit on one of the flowering crabapple trees, but the one in the cemetery is actually pink with its abundance of fruit. Mother Nature is feeding her children!

Isn’t it amazing that these changes take place before our very eyes, and yet how many passersby are too busy talking on their cell phones or texting to bother to look?

There was one, the other morning, when the sun ignited the maple. She drove in, turned around, stepped out of the car and focused a camera on the spectacle. Thank you, whoever you were, for your appreciation.

Hasn’t this been a strange autumn? Of course, every season this year has been strange in every part of the country. We have been so fortunate in this area not to have had disastrous weather — but what will winter bring?

Could not believe my eyes

Just the other day, I could not believe my eyes. A lady bluebird was at the bird bath, perched on the rim, first sipping, then plunging in to take a vigorous bath! Last year, in early November, a male bluebird did the same, and even though I never see them in summer, it is a joy to know they are somewhere in my small sanctuary.

But things change daily, and the changes are disturbing. Not only is there another huge medical building beside another medical building at the end of the boulevard — many trees went down for both of them — and now for months to come we will listen to construction activities as both the YMCA and St. Elizabeth Hospital, just south of me, are to be enlarged for millions of dollars.

Already traffic on Washington Boulevard is scary and it is bound to get worse. Every day another raccoon or rabbit or squirrel meets a violent end. I’m almost afraid to look when I walk out to get the mail. One day, I am afraid there will be a deer as several come here for sanctuary and fallen pears.

I worry about a small black feral cat who comes from somewhere every few days and has for several years. It cannot be approached but it seems healthy and I leave the garage door up a bit at the bottom for when it needs to get out of the weather.

Toby

As regular readers know, Toby, my sweet Haflinger, would eat himself to death if he didn’t wear a grazing muzzle that only allows him to slurp a few blades of grass at a time. Admittedly, his health and weight and hooves have improved immensely. But he is a clever fellow, and has learned to scrape the bottom of the muzzle back and forth to increase the size of the hole and thus the volume of “intake.”

Eventually, he was able to enlarge the hole on the bottom to his satisfaction — and to render the device almost useless. I managed to mend one, sort of, using baling twine, but the other two were beyond me. What to do? They are not cheap to buy.

Doug Wiley offered to drop them off at Simonds Leather in Leetonia to see if Susan Simonds Fader could come up with something, and sure enough she did. I reminded her — she is John Simonds’ daughter — that in December 1976 I had written a feature story about Simonds Leather, and don’t you know John called me and we had a great talk.

And it turns out Susan is a “birder” and so she and I also had a great talk. If you need anything in leather, canvas, webbing or nylon, harness or saddlery, just call 330-427-2014 and they’ll fix you up.

Such a nice letter from Hugh “Sandy” Gunn whom I have known since he was a youngster growing up in our village.

He was pleased to read about the Old Arrel Farm and especially about Elizabeth Arrel Thompson who “was like a wonderful aunt to me. She had a pony for me to ride and taught me to work hard and that nothing is free.”

Bargain basement

I heard a phrase the other day that rang a bell for me, and I wonder if it does for anyone else: bargain basement. In those wonderful days of department stores, with several floors and “moving stairs,” there was a basement to which much of the same material sold “upstairs” was taken and sold at a reduced price, hence “bargain basement.”

During the Great Depression, our family did most of its shopping in the “bargain basement” and I recall some of the clothes and hats that came from those interesting floors. Barbara and I were always well dressed and it didn’t matter what floor our clothes came from!

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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