Come Autumn and especially October

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Great Smoky Mountains

Those who know me well know that fall is my favorite time of the year.  I prematurely long for October beginning in June or July.  In this, my 50th fall season, I endeavored to determine why.  After all, every season holds the promise of something new.  It’s as if God knew our fickle natures would tire and need a change.

As I pondered my preference for all things autumn, I mentally made a list of all of the possibilities for why this season holds such charm.

For one thing, this month is the month of my birth.  Granted, that isn’t nearly as exciting as in years gone by but perhaps in my formative years, it was one reason I developed a strong preference for the beginning of autumn and for the month of October.

It also holds the promise of the rapidly approaching holiday season and cooler temperatures.  Although I am a Florida native, I’ve always favored the chillier weather, and I am grateful that I travel a lot and get to partake of it more often.  The drop in temperature means that even we Florida girls will get to wear boots!

If all of that wasn’t enough to help me understand my love for fall, I was reminded of something else just this morning.

I live in what I would describe as a small fishing village.  One of the livelihoods is stone crabbing and if you are a local, it is very likely that someone in your family is or was in the stone crabbing business or benefits from it in some way.  My dad was a stone crabber and my husband added a crab boat to our business just last year.  You may be wondering what crabbing has to do with my October love.

Well, you see October 15th is the first day the crabbers can begin pulling stone crab traps and bringing in their catch.  Today signifies the start of a more lucrative season for crabbers.

When I was a child, after a long penny pinching summer, it was exciting to wait at the docks and see how many pounds of crabs daddy had caught that day.  Even as a child you felt that fiscal tension ease up quite a bit within a couple of weeks after crab season started (as long as it was a good season).  The question of how many pounds was often a precursor to what kind of Christmas you were going to have.

So this morning, around 4:00am, when I began to hear the sounds of those diesel engines as the crab boats headed out, I smiled and reminisced for a while and then said a prayer for a bountiful harvest and safety for all.

Now, if I could just get the days to slow down, so I can thoroughly enjoy every moment of my October.

Not my usual Friday

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Today dawned cool and quiet (well cool for SW FL) and after coffee, prayer and devotions, I was ready for whatever came my way.

My eldest called and we chatted about her family’s healthy eating and her participation in the Spartan Race tomorrow.  She is one of those Crossfit crazed people, but whatever keeps her motivated sounds good to me.  I mention this because later it would inspire me to dig deep.

I blogged a few days ago in “Painting in Circles”, about helping out my husband with his new venture into stone crabbing.  Today he needed help loading several hundred crap traps onto a trailer, hauling them to the local fish house where he will sell his crabs and unloading them once there.  They would be “poured” today with cement. (to help them sink)

Of course I offered to help and he gladly accepted since most of his friends were working or otherwise engaged today.  Loading the first 200 or so was easy – I loaded onto the trailer while he stacked them.  We drove slowly over to the unloading site and I began unloading as he prepared the rows and lined them up properly.  I was easily lifting three at a time and stacking away, pretending at times that I was doing crossfit; bending at the knees, careful not to overextend, staying hydrated.

Before I knew it, we were getting back into the truck to come and get another load.  My nephew who was helping us, would stay there and continue lining up the traps in neat rows, readying them for the concrete.  I was hot and my elbow (the one with a tad of tendonitis was stinging), but all in all, I wasn’t much worse for wear.  We loaded another 220 quickly and went back to unload.  I’m not going to lie, I was getting tired of playing crossfit by now in the now 90 degree heat and began working harder and faster to finish the now grueling task.

We got that done and headed back for the remaining 90 or so which we loaded right away.  “Babe, are you coming back over there with me”, he asked.  “Well, I really need to get some laundry done”, I replied, doing my best to look tired and pitiful.  He thanked me for the help, kissed me and rushed off to finish the job.

The ice cold air greeted me like a long lost friend as I opened the front door.  My shower felt like a blessing from heaven and last nights left-overs satisfied my hunger and made me want to go to take a nap.  Since I know what I put my body through today, I went ahead and took a pre-“onset of pain” Advil.  It’s not that I don’t work out, walk and try to be healthy, but I used arm muscles today that I haven’t used since I carried a baby around.

After a glass of refreshing iced tea, I got a second wind and proceeded to finish a little wreath project I started the other day.  Now, I am feeling accomplished and awash with that good tired, the kind where everything aches a little but it’s okay because you got stuff done.

With all that said, I will leave you with a picture of my wreath and I welcome any comments good or bad.  For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know I don’t always have the best of luck with crafty things.  You won’t hurt my feelings if you provide some corrective criticism for my next one.  Good night and sweet dreams.  I will be probably be dreaming about lifting something.

Owl fall wreath

Owl fall wreath

Painting in circles

SONY DSCYesterday I did something I haven’t done in approximately 35 years.  I painted buoys that will be used on our recently acquired stone crab traps. I have really tried to distance myself from this particular venture and vowed inwardly that I would not get sucked into the labor crew in any capacity.

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However, finding myself looking out the window at my hubby hard at work yesterday as I sat inside contemplating what to do, I caved.   I changed clothes, marched right out there and said, “What can I do to help?”  A few moments later, there I was, brush in hand; yellow paint drops already appearing on my flip-flop clad feet, as I made my way down the line of buoys.

As I painted, fond memories assailed me of a line of buoys strung between 2 big fichus trees in the front yard.  My brother, sister and I, adorned in “play clothes”, were anxious to paint blue circles on my dad’s buoys.  My dad was a commercial fisherman and stone crabber at the time, and depending on the task and our skill level, we could occasionally provide cheap labor.  However, if I remember correctly our great desire to work never lasted through many lines of buoys.  I will have to remember to ask my dad if we gave up on them or if he and my grandfather just grew impatient with us and encouraged us to go play.

I do remember when the buoys first arrived, prior to the branding and painting, we would usually get into trouble due to the “buoy fights” we had with neighborhood kids.  Yes, it was just as it sounds; everyone would grab a buoy and try to hit someone; if you were hit, you were out.

I remember the smell when dad would brand the buoys with his own set of numbers.  It’s funny how that smell still evokes so many childhood memories.

My husband and I both have other careers, but this will be a “supplemental” one for him and I pray it proves to be fruitful.  It is something he has always wanted to try.  So, I have decided that instead of lamenting his longer hours, fearing the imagined problems, and distancing myself from it all, it is far better to jump in, support and even try to muster up some excitement about it.

But for now, I have buoys to paint.

line of buoys stretching to the sky

line of buoys stretching to the sky

 

Weekly photo challenge: Culture

Weekly photo challenge:  Culture

Stone crab boats lining up for the Annual Blessing of the Fleet

In our small town, stone crabbing is a way of life for many, a part of our culture.  I took this as the boats left their docks to line up in front of the historic Rod & Gun Hotel for an annual celebration called, “The Blessing of the Fleet”.  Local ministers and community gather to corporately pray for the crabbers, their safety and for a good season.

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