November 27, 2017 10:28:22 AM
"It's not about presents but it is about your presence. Therein lies the spirit of the holiday season."
-- Julieanne O'Connor, author, actor, strategist
The winds blew in from the southwest, taking plenty of leaves with them. Just when you think you have the porch swept clean, here they come again. The Japanese persimmons hang on a leafless tree. The fruit has a transparency to it, left behind by the early morning frost. The fruit on the lowest limbs have nibbles at the bottom. One morning as Sam left early for fishing, he saw deer standing below the tree, caught in the very act of enjoying a taste of the sweet fruit.
I'm still working with persimmons, trying out methods of making them edible. I sliced them crosswise, topped them with cinnamon and roasted them slowly in the oven. The inner part tasted sweet and delicious, but the skin was bitter. I decided to try peeling and roasting as well as waiting 'til the first frost to see if the bitterness was gone. Social activities picked up dramatically for Thanksgiving, so I haven't had a chance to try cooking them again. The rabbits think they are just fine the way they are as the drippy juice runs down their little chins.
It was Sam's birthday, complete with home-cooked hamburgers and waffle fries, Sam's favorite meal, in Sam's favorite place. He was gifted with homemade pumpkin cookies with icing on top, a new wardrobe of camouflage, a poetry book by Billy Collins and an evening of family entertainment watching "Journey - Greatest Hits DVD 1978-1997." Sam said his birthday could not have been better.
If you're not familiar with Steve Perry's Journey, the band sings "Don't Stop Believing," played at MSU athletic games where fans light up their phones and wave them over their heads in unison. Perry is still singing at 68 years old and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April.
I have to agree with Sam, Steve Perry has a gifted voice and the lyrics are lovely, but those high-waisted, skintight, bell-bottomed, white polyester pants and voluminous hairdos were a bit distracting. Perhaps we shouldn't say anything at all about young people's current fashions.
Birthdays and Thanksgiving have come and gone and now we are into Christmas preparations. In an effort to continued minimalism, we give small but thoughtful gifts and wrap them with some measure of sustainability. I considered newspaper, as I've done before, brown mailing paper, even wax paper or tinfoil, when Sam suggested using the green velvety fabric. It was $4 a yard and I got a little confused over feet and yards, ending up with a huge surplus. Excellent idea. Trimmed with a gold or even burlap bow it will be perfect and all reusable.
Our Christmas tree history went from gigantic cedar trees under the vaulted ceiling, to purchasing a store-bought tree from the imperfect bin at a box store, to this week scouting the home place for our own perfect, native and appropriately-sized cedar Christmas tree.
Our pre-owned ornaments and candy cane lights adorn the tree, accompanied by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and mugs of sugar-free hot chocolate.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.
1. Our View: A time for redevelopment optimism in Columbus DISPATCH EDITORIALS
2. Slimantics: At long last, I'm a quitter LOCAL COLUMNS
4. Patrick Buchanan: Should US-Saudi alliance be saved? NATIONAL COLUMNS