If you live anywhere in the 11-state region of the hallowed ground known as the SEC, you know exactly what this photo means. And if you don’t know, you’re in luck because I’m going to tell you in one word: Football. This. Is. SEC. Football. Because we girls know that an SEC football stadium is the biggest runway of them all. New York Fashion Week? Yeah, that’s nice and all, but an Alabama football game trumps any designer’s catwalk any day. I know that dressing up for football games is sort of a Southern thing that some folks may unflatteringly link back to so-called Southern belle-ism, but I prefer to think of it as a way to be stylish and comfortable and show team loyalty all at the same time. And another excuse to go shopping. So it’s all good. (And, please, y’all give Vanderbilt some time. It’s a rebuilding year, you know.)
Our younger grandson turned 1 year old this past weekend and my son-in-law’s family hosted a joyous party on a perfect fall afternoon. Older Daughter, mom to the birthday boy, asked one of her friends who’s a super photographer, Danielle McCann, to come and take photos. This was the best idea ever, because that meant we adoring relatives could simply stand around and admire instead of stressing about preserving precious moments for posterity. Well done, Older Daughter! And well done, Danielle (Or “DeeDee” as she’s known at our house) for these wonderful photos. And well done Younger Daughter, too, who couldn’t resist the creative forces that were unleashed and so wrote this caption for the photo above: “As he stood from the ashes of the dying trees, the Young Child suddenly realized his camouflage had failed him. He froze. But the game was over. ‘Curse you, Robin’s Egg Blue!! CURSE YOUUU!!!'” My family …
Let’s just say, for instance, that you’re in the midst of decluttering and packing up your house of 15 years to move to a new house about half the size. And let’s just say, for instance, that you’re also trying to get your normal jobs done and sneakily trick impress the people who sign your paychecks by making them think you’re organized and responsible and can handle moving and writing a food story about pumpkins-as-ingredients and your weekly newspaper column at the same time. And let’s just say that you’re also trying to do your normal life things and keep up with friends and family and the cat-feeding schedule while you’re rationing boxes and figuring out if you need packing tape or sealing tape. But, despite all that, you still want to write a thoughtful blog post. What do you do? Recycle! Point your readers to other things you recently have written but they may not have seen. They won’t notice it’s second-hand material and they’ll be awed by your juggling skills and entertained by your mindless babbling well-reasoned insights. Not that I would ever do anything like that. I’m just saying.
I don’t want to sound all grumpy and old — I mean, I know who Monsters of Folk are, after all — but aren’t we rushing the holidays just a little bit? Look, it’s only early November, but I’ve already seen enough Christmas-shopping commercials and front-door Christmas wreaths to last me through December. And the thing is that I love the holidays. I am definitely a Christmas kind of girl. I believe you can never have enough wassail and frankincense and festive good cheer, not to mention yummy food, fun parties and presents for all. It’s just that I also am a fall kind of person. I love autumn leaves and pumpkins and brown and orange sweaters. I adore warm days and cool nights and those lovely 5 p.m. sunsets. And I know, I know — stores started selling Halloween merchandise in August so technically we’ve had enough time to celebrate fall. But, still, it’s the first week of November. I’m just not ready to flip the switch to Christmas yet — particularly since that means Thanksgiving gets sort of lost. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays — you get all the fun without any of the pressure. What’s not to like about that? This arrangement I saw in a Tupelo, Mississippi, hotel lobby this past week would make the perfect Thanksgiving decoration — although it’s probably gone by now and replaced by a Christmas tree. Sigh. And, really, why fight it? I have been thinking about going ahead and unearthing the holiday CDs that every year I put away so carefully so I can find them easily the next year, which never works, of course. It usually takes me a couple weeks to track them down, so that should be about right. Feliz Navidad!
October truly is my favorite month. Who can resist 31 days of family fun, gorgeous weather, marching band half-time shows endless football games and pumpkins everywhere you look? Not to mention free candy just for the asking! Could it get any better??? Read more about why October is on my best-ever list at my weekly newspaper column for the TimesDaily in Florence, Alabama: http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20091016/ARTICLES/910165000
I got to go to a pumpkin farm for the first time ever this past week — and I loved it! When my now 20-something daughters were little, agri-tourism had not yet made the news and farms were something you wanted to get away from, not pay money to spend an afternoon there. But at 18 months, grandson Capt. Adorable is ready this fall for his first pumpkin experience and I was lucky enough to go along with him and his mom and dad. We visited Tate Farms in Meridianville, Alabama (on the east side of Huntsville) and as soon as we stepped out of the car, the Captain was wriggling with delight. It was like the wide open running spaces, inviting playground equipment, oh-so-cute baby animals and piles of brightly colored pumpkins and gourds had been created just for him. In fact, he was in such constant motion, I had a hard time getting photos — he hasn’t quite grasped the notion of photo ops yet. At the Pumpkin Shack that was set up for proud-parent and -grandparent photos, he was more interested in dismantling the rows of pumpkins than in posing for the camera. But Grandma snapped away, anyway! Find out more about Tate Farms at http://www.tatefarmspumpkins.com/
You all know that I am naturally cynical, suspicious and contrary, but even the sweetest among us, I think, would scoff at these “Weekend in the Country” clothes from a popular fashion-shopping Web site. I mean, seriously? Are you kidding? Look, I’ve lived in the country before (at least, I’ve lived in a house where you could see cows across the road) and mainly what you wear on the weekends are 8-year-old tennis shoes, baggy T-shirts from 1980s concert tours and jeans that are ripped and torn not because you spent $300 for them to be that way but because you caught them on a rusty nail. Or maybe that’s just me. And anyway, the “country weekend” looks touted by this e-mail ad — plaids, tights, boots — are pretty much what we Alabama folks wear all winter and fall, whether we’re in the country or in the busiest bustling metro downtown. (Don’t laugh — have you ever been in Birmingham at rush hour? ‘Nuff said.) Look, in all honesty, I know this ad is about the eastern seaboard upper-class tradition of vacating the work week city for a relaxing New England country weekend. I know that. I’m just amused and slightly annoyed at this latest example of the New York City-centric retail-fashion industry once again forgetting that there are other women in other parts of the country who enjoy shopping for trends but don’t need to be condescended to with some sort of Vermont-country-inn fantasy. On the other hand, now that I look at those lace-up stiletto suede booties, I kind of like them. Wouldn’t they look great as you tromped through a beautiful fall forest wearing a denim mini-skirt, plaid jacket and tights? Curse you, American advertising machine!!!
It’s fall, y’all! Here in northwest Alabama, it was in the 40s overnight and we’re pulling out our jackets and scarves and planning for the much-anticipated annual Boot Day — the first official day it’s cool enough (temperature-wise, that is) to wear boots. I know, I know — it’s only temporary and we’ve got many more 85+-degree days to come. But it is encouraging. Another thing I adore about fall is the decor. I mean, who doesn’t love cornstalks and gourds and cheerful orange pumpkins? There’s something about fall that inspires creativity, like the door of Swirlz, a delightful party-invitation store in Tupelo, Mississippi. I love the combination of the sheer orange ribbon and bare branches with the perky and sunny flowers. And then, adorning the gracious doorway of a magnificent Southern home in Decatur, Alabama, I found these lovely arrangements of gourds, mums and greenery. This is the home of Betty Sims, a cookbook author and former restaurant owner who teaches sold-out cooking classes every fall. She is Southern hospitality personified — warm, generous, funny and sweet — and I think her decor reflects that. Check out the Scrumptious Culinary School schedule at http://scrumptiousinc.com.