The coming autumn can’t be denied


It wasn’t even Labor Day yet when Halloween decorations, cards and other gimcracks appeared on store shelves. And even before that, catalogues were showing Thanksgiving and Christmas cards in the same issue.
They might just as well include Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s and Easter while they’re at it!
With Canfield Fair past-tense – yes, I did get there and walked my legs off because I’ll not concede and ride the senior wagons or rent one of those silly things I saw a lot of old folks steering around – and with school buses rumbling down the street and Monarch butterflies flitting amid the hollyhocks and goldenrod, plus all the other beautiful flowering pollen-laden weeds, I guess summer left on the departing wings of the little wrens and barn swallows.
Both Apache and Toby show signs of the coming season, too, as their coats begin to thicken. Toby has gone through another bad hoof session, which is apparently going to be a part of him forever – he’s been here five years this month – while indoors, Winnie and Lisa shed and shed and shed!
Dalmatians shed all year through, so that is nothing new, and since Lisa has a daily combing, which she demands – her white fur is as dense as any chinchilla’s – the shedding is kept to a minimum.
Keeping the wisteria and the grass under control is getting to be difficult, but I don’t want to complain since the prolonged drought gave all of us a respite as the lawns burned brown.
Then came the rains, and everything took off, and the pond, which was at its lowest possible level, filled to the brim. But now, when the wind blows, the trees sigh as they prepare to say goodbye to their drying and soon-to-fall leaves.
Another hint of coming autumn that can’t be denied is the aroma from the kitchen where chili sauce simmers on the stove.
As always, when I am making it according to my mother’s recipe, I recall dashing home from school to be greeted by that same aroma, and devouring a slice of homemade bread dripping with the warm sauce.
This recipe has no “hot” peppers, as Daddy couldn’t abide a single grain of pepper. His forehead would bead with sweat immediately if one managed to slip in!
* * *
When my longtime friend, the late Esther Hamilton, continued to write her newspaper column from Florida after she retired, most of her columns were reminiscing about earlier times.
And I made a vow to myself that I would try not to do that because the younger generation doesn’t want to hear about “the way we were,” although sometimes it is hard to not dwell on what seemed to be better times.
Beside this ancient Apple II-C is a pile of clippings from magazines, other papers, notes I’ve made, etc., all of which might be of interest for a column.
For instance: did you know that according to the figures from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 63 percent of American households own a pet. Those 71.1 million homes are estimated to spend over $40 billion this year on pet products.
Surveys show that 39 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog, and 34 percent have at least one cat.
For instance: did you know these maximum recorded life spans? Mayfly, three hours; pygmy goby (fish), eight weeks; housefly, six months; house mouse, five years; domestic dog, 29 years; domestic cat, 34 years; orangutan, 59 years; African elephant, 80 years; human, 122 years (!); Galapagos tortoise, 188 years; Quahog clam, 220 years.
Such a great dinner table conversation, eh?
* * *
How about this: retirement may be a time in your life when you finally know all the answers, but no one bothers to ask you the questions.
Or, a person who thinks he is too old to learn new things probably always was.
Should I wish you a Happy New Year’s now, or wait until Christmas? Just kidding.


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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.