Some of our brightest days arrived on our hillside this week. The hickory trees have made their way onto center stage for their amazing final performance of the year. As you approach the top of the hill a panorama of little golden flags wave wildly, blazing brightly in the late afternoon sun, taking your breath away.
God is doing a splendid job with his paintbrush this year, changing the scene each day as he adds a touch of color here and there to the trees, preparing them for their winter hibernation. A satisfying breeze shakes the leaves and swirls the pleasant temperatures outside, warm but not hot, cool but not cold.
Joshua and I walked up on a fat and happy chipmunk yesterday morning near the woodpile. I suppose he was preparing for winter, same as us. Our preparation involved me and the kids moving the remainder of our woodpile, one wheelbarrow load at a time, to the other end of the house near the fireplace. Holly, Olivia, and I loaded the wood into the wheelbarrow from where it had been dumped off of the truck last year. Then I played the role of the pack mule and made the long trek around the steep hillside to the fireplace entrance, emptying each load near Bradley, Hannah, and Joshua where they were neatly stacking it.
After the wood hauling was completed I took a chop or two at the un-split wood that remained from years past. Up the hill a few large decaying chunks of wood needed some attention, and I knew that if these did not get split soon, their worth would rapidly deteriorate. With the kids gathering around at a distance, they cheered me on as I swung the axe, goading me on with every blow. As the wind blew the trees overhead we were occasionally pelted with acorn bombs from above. Hearing them crunch as they landed in the leaves, we wondered aloud what an acorn might feel like on the head. No sooner had we said it then Joshua became the loan victim, rubbing his temple after he’d been nailed.
Another victim of fall this year was our faithful friend, Mr. Scarecrow. I ran across him several weeks ago while cleaning out the garage. Now forgotten in the corner, Katrina’s homemade creation used to be the centerpiece of our doorway in fall, a welcome sight to those who darkened our door. He came to life when Katrina and the kids stuffed an old pair of overalls and a shirt with straw. To form his head, they stuffed a pair of pantyhose with cotton batting from an old pillow, and drew a face on him with a marker. Capped off at the top with an old straw hat, it was as though a cast member of The Wizard of Oz had come for a visit.
The first fall arrival of Mr. Scarecrow must have been the first year that we had Sammy the wonder dog, because I can remember Sammy’s reaction when he caught his first glimpse of the straw man. It was quite a funny sight watching little ole Sammy growl and bark at him sitting there in the wicker chair by the front door. He was quite the brave dog protecting us all from this intruder in our doorway, and he even went so far as to jump up on his head and tear at his defenseless pantyhose face. After we saved the scarecrow from the ravages of Sammy, Katrina had to do a little bit of repair work on him and Sammy had to go to the back yard.
When I had found our straw-fattened Mr. Scarecrow this year, he had fallen into disrepair, a wreck of a man, and worst of all, nearly decapitated. He had worn out his welcome, and with Katrina’s desire for a change, he’d been cast aside, replaced this year by an anorexic, ready-made man-on-a-stick, brought over on the slow boat from China. Our new door greeter now stands guard over our pumpkin and mums out front, hopefully safe from the ravages of Sammy.
Maybe next year we’ll resurrect the old fat fellow and stuff him back to life, but until then, he’s been banished to the garage.
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, October 24-25, 2010.