The Tattered Glory of August

August is one of my favorite times. It’s hot, but there might be the odd fresh morning that lets you know autumn is around the bend.

My running route is packed with summer. Over the past two weeks, all of these signs have begun to fray, and beautifully so. There are late blackberries, some scorched and some still plump.

Some are still sour. We’ve got a good long season here.

Among the thorns, I heard a rustle. She was hung up by her foot. When I let her go, she flew to the little creek immediately– thirsty but okay.

Along the way, the true glory of August is on display. It’s easy to run and be cheerful despite the heat. (Full disclosure: I LOVE running in the heat. Unsure why, but it feels better, like hot yoga provided by Mother Nature)

Everywhere I looked, flowers. Some people call them weeds, but that’s not true.

Things are past their peak, but still radiant. The colors are stunning, and there’s a desperate quality to the lower leaves on all the plants. They’re sun-scorched but defiant, pushing up blooms that are visible at a distance. Summer beauty is persistent.

The goldenrod and purple glory is just starting. Up next: September, when we start thinking cozy thoughts.

Off to run. Hope your neighborhood is filled with color, too.

Cheers,

Terry

When Squirrels Attack

Squirrels are adorable terrorists. They’re small, agile, cute, destructive, and recently, they attempted to take me out.

Muerte. Dead. Doomed. Ixnayed. Rubbed out. Removed with extreme prejudice.

Call it what you will, this was a clear attempt on my life.

Some background: Our home is more than a century old. The backyard is filled with treasures, from modern toys, vintage toys, china, bottles, inkwells, and other various items accumulated over time.

Until now, they’ve been relatively tame, and only unearthed by our dogs. Or me. Or moles. You get the picture.

It all changed when I heard a thunk as I was near the Super Tree House Compound I built for our son. A squirrel- it could be no other beast– dropped something from the top of our maple tree.

It was no accident. For your consideration, I offer the following evidence:

That. . . is an antler knife with a screwdriver, or what I like to call, “Evidence of a crime.”

I’m holding the knife until the end of my natural existence, in the event that the squirrels decide to take another crack at me. You must understand, I have a history with squirrels. Our relationship began quite well– we had tame squirrels that ate out of our hands. They would sit on my shoulder, and let me pet their little ears. All was well until the Pumpkin Incident of 2003.

I had a sixty pound pumpkin of such glorious orange that it was sure to be a showstopper for Halloween. When I woke up one morning before carving, I saw something odd. The back end of a squirrel protruded from the interior of my once heroic pumpkin, now a partial husk having been disemboweled by a family of squirrels.

Actually, they’re a crime family. Let’s call it like it is.

I *may* have yelled at the offending beastie, and we all know how the Squirrel Network never forgets– and never forgives.

I urge you to look up. They’re watching you, and they’re armed.

Weight Loss Is Hard

As in, losing weight sucks. There’s nothing good about my cyclical winter re-fattening.

Here’s how it seems to go: Summertime means running outside. Sunshine. Heat. Lots of summer-ish stuff, moving quickly and doing things for the sheer pleasure of being outside because life seems to really pop once the temperature starts rising.

As a kid in Florida, it was always summer. There was no sense of urgency about nice weather, and thus, activity stayed at a reasonable level year ’round.

Enter my move to “The North”. Now, do to the horrors of Daylight Savings Time, it gets dark sometime after lunch. I feel the urge to eat, get under blankets, and allow our herd of pets to camp out on me like a mountain that occasionally moves and snorts. I gain– without fail- twenty pounds. Then, as the winter wears on, I begin my cycle of yearning for seasonal tomatoes and wishing that it would be hot every day. Unlike normal humans, I prefer it to be hot when I run. I don’t know if it’s some latent form of Protestant self-hatred, but running in the summer is far preferable to the winter.

If I were to run in the winter (a nightmare for me), my nose whistles like a failing radiator, and my lungs fill with ice crystals and/or doom.

Oddly enough, I think I write more in the summer, too– one would think that cozy nights inside would cause a flurry of writing. It doesn’t. I eat cookies and feel moderate shame as I reach the end of the Oreos and give serious consideration to going out for more at 2:00 AM.

I’m going to see if there’s a connection between running, sunshine, and my word count. There has to be something scientific, probably a German word that sounds like a threat, which explains why I emerge from the relative gloom of winter and feel like writing, running, and not eating sixty cookies while looking out the kitchen window t the winter stars wheeling overhead.

My bride and I are having ten year anniversary pictures taken, and I’d like to be in peak form for those. I have a little more than two months.

Let the complaining begin.

The misery of dieting.

I began the Spring Pre-Running Diet. I will fist fight for: pizza, cheese, spicy tuna sushi rolls, cheeseburgers, fried anything, milkshakes, ice cream, pie, waffles, or cake.

I will also, at the minimum, wrestle for pancakes, steak, eggs with actual cheese, a bucket of ketchup, mayo on a shoe, bread, cookies, hash browns, sausage, any kind of casserole, tacos, fish sandwiches (species irrelevant) and any animal that has ever lived in the ocean with the exception of a walrus, and even that’s negotiable.

As you may guess, my life is not unlike that of an insect– a large, six foot tall insect that goes through the following life cycle every year:

  1. Spring- a time of emergence from the grim winter, thickened and pale, not unlike a grub– but one who wears clothes and complains about Daylight Savings Time.
  2. Summer. Utter joy! I run! I tan! I fish! I leap about, all while becoming the human I was always meant to be, but with a glistening coat of sweat at all times.
  3. Fall. the magic of autumn, in which I begin to pupate as my conversion into a Basic White Girl takes hold. Coffee! Pumpkins! Holidays! Turkey and pie and shame! Mild existential dread at knowing that after Christmas, life is over!
  4. Winter. Pre-Pre-Christmas! Pre-Christmas! CHRISTMAS! Moderate depression after Christmas. The letdown of New Year’s Eve, following by the horror of sunset at 4:30 PM. My body begins to spin a cocoon of fat, even as the tan fades from my skin. I think what the sun used to look like, and sigh.

So, that’s where I’m at. Post-Winter Diet: check. Moderate anger: check.

I feel like there’s a lot of broccoli in my future, and it makes me sad.

Whatever,

Terry

Christmas, Fried Chicken, and Michigan.

I’ve added an event in the heretofore unknown to me town of Frankenmuth, Michigan, which appears to be the geographical equivalent of my spirit animal.

This magical little town is known for (but not limited to):

  1. Christmas
  2. Buttered noodles
  3. Pretzels
  4. The “Best Fried Chicken Dinner in the World”.

Okay, let’s stop there for a moment as I tell the good people of Frankenmuth that I will most certainly put that claim to the test.

World Famous Chicken Dinner!

When my wife and I were dating, I made fried chicken. I made really good fried chicken, and my wife is somewhat of a connoisseur in that arena. She famously said, “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken and I don’t want to know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken.”

I could not agree more.

SO. I’m coming for you, Frankenmuth. I will have an empty belly, a stack of books, and an intense curiosity in sampling all of your wonderful fare.

Here’s the event– I can’t wait; it’s going to be wonderful. Once Upon A Book

If you’re familiar with Frankenmuth and have suggestions for me, I’ll be there from August 10-12 of this year. Drop by, say hello, or suggest the things that I simply shouldn’t miss.

I’ll have a minimum of two new books with me, and plenty of swag for readers.

I’ll bring the books, Frankenmuth, you bring the chicken. It’s a date.