From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR
The saddest cartoon I saw this weekend was Charlie Brown standing on the pitcher’s mound, his gloved hand dropped down by his thigh, a frown on his round face. The caption: “GOODBYE SUMMER!” And Chuck saying, “It’s Over!”
These are trying times.
Summer is the best, followed by spring, then autumn, then winter. (My least favorite season: the NBA.)
Tuesday marked the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the day when the sun is directly above the equator and the hours of day and night are about the same. Even though autumn means winter is coming – not good – it is hard not to enjoy the first cool late-September days and all that rides in on this time of year, like football and leaves. And football again.
So today we briefly wrap up the first week of autumn, and the summer that was so good to Charlie Brown.
This week a couple of my favorite rockers, Joan Jett (56) and Bruce Springsteen (65) had birthdays. Neither of those numbers – 56 or 65 – are misprints. Time is a funny thing. Hope they rock on.
Ray Charles, author of the first album I remember hearing as a boy, was born on the day of this year’s equinox in 1930 and passed away in June of 2004. You might remember that Ray had a woman way ’cross town that was good to him. He also could not stop loving you. What’s not to love? A child of autumn, Ray was the man.
Also this week in 1806, Lewis and Clark returned to St. Louis after two years of exploring the north part of the Louisiana Purchase and going all the way to the Pacific, where they discovered the Seattle Mariners, and later, Starbucks.
This is a fumble on my part but better late than never: I forgot to mention last week that Hiram King “Hank” Williams was born the final week of summer in 1923. He died on Jan. 1, 1953, at age 29 in Oak Hill, West Virginia. I still hold anyone who was living in West Virginia at the time personally responsible. I hope our autumn and winter is better than Hank Sr.’s final one.
This was the summer of relatively mild temperatures, of trying and mostly failing to learn how to sort of play golf again, and of watering the backyard potted plants, which took about 45 minutes each evening. If you are too ambitious in your container planting, you will have to spend much quality time with your garden hose. You can also forget vacation.
I have kept a garden journal. When people make fun of me for planting things I tell them that this is what a guy does when he cannot coach Little League anymore or afford to strike the dimpled orb (golf ball) all the time.
Maybe you can learn from my stabs at bringing Southern Living to life in north Louisiana. I’ve discovered the begonias did better than I’d planned, though they were bought as an afterthought. If you have never tried big butterfly begonias, get all over those next spring. Planted them in a huge thigh-high container by the front door with a Little Gem Magnolia in the back, along with caladiums, asparagus fern and sweet potato vine. Then around them I put three other smaller containers with caladiums in one, sweet potato vine in one, begonias and fern in the other. It was the hit of the ’hood.
Gardening is a lonely row to hoe but the payoff is good. The butterflies and hummingbirds like it. Makes you feel like you’re making a contribution. My neighbors are just happy we finally have grass in the front yard.
Probably will cut back on the salvia next spring and the butterfly bushes and the blanket flowers and lavender and just plant a bunch of red lantana, which is basically a landing pad for hummingbirds. They will leave soon and so will this year’s blooms. But God figures these things out: they’ll both return in the spring. After a cozy fall and winter, I hope we do too.