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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Good morning crew,

If there is one consolation to finally having to say goodbye to summer it is getting to experience the changing of the leaves (well, that and Oktoberfest). It is still a little early for it, but I have already observed a number of trees showing off hints of red and gold. Fortunately I live in an area with plenty of deciduous foliage so I'm constantly encountering this miracle of nature.

There is something comforting and downright Norman Rockwellian to be walking down a homey suburban street canopied by rows of old growth trees clothed in a riot of brilliant colors.

It is even more impressive when you are submerged and surrounded by it. 70 miles or so to the west of me is Starved Rock State Park and it is really magnificent to go hiking through there in late September or early October. And they have just a huge log lodge right at the entrance to the park with a decent restaurant and bar in it, which makes for a really enjoyable day of tree watching.

In his book 'I'm a Stranger Here Myself' Bill Bryson makes some very relatable references to this magical time of year;

It is impossible to describe a spectacle this grand without babbling. Even the great naturalist Donald Culross Peattie, a man whose prose is so dry you could use it to mop spills, totally lost his head when he tried to convey the wonder of a New England autumn.

In his classic 'Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America' Peattie drones on for 434 pages in language that can most generously be called workmanlike (typical passage: "Oaks are usually ponderous and heavy-wooded trees, with scaly or furrowed bark, and more or less five-angled twigs and, consequently, five-ranked leaves."), but when at last he turns he attention to the New England sugar maple and its vivid autumnal regalia, it is as if someone has spiked his cocoa. In a tumble of breathless metaphors he describes the maple's colors as "like the shout of a great army... like tongues of flame... like the mighty, marching melody that rides upon the crest of some symphonic weltering sea and, with its crying song, gives meaning to all the calculated dissonance of the orchestra."

"Yes, Donald," you can just about hear his wife saying, "now take your medication, dear."

For two fevered paragraphs, he goes on like this and then abruptly returns to talking about drooping leaf axils, scaly buds, and pendulous branchlets.

I can sympathize. There is definitely something glorious about this brief but spectacular orgy of colors. I just try not to think about the fact that I'll be raking mountains of it up in about six weeks.

Laugh it up,


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"A Stanford study suggests that social media is making us smarter. They examined hundreds of essays written by college freshmen between 1917 and 2006. By 2016, the papers were longer, better researched, and more complex. That's because kids in 2016 cut and pasted them from Wikipedia." -Jimmy Kimmel


"NASA is sending chocolate to astronauts on the International Space Station. I guess it makes sense I mean, it's not like those guys have to watch their weight. "Nope, still zero pounds.'" -Jimmy Fallon


"Psychologists now believe that adulthood begins at 25, not 18. They also believe that middle age begins the first time you eat at a Denny's while sober." -Conan O'Brien


The local high school has a policy that the parents must call the school if a student is to be absent for the day. Alice deciding to skip school and go to the mall with her friends. So she waited until her parents had left for work and called the school herself.

"Hi, I'm calling to report that Alice is unable to make it to school today because she is ill."

Secretary at high school answered, "I'm sorry to hear that. I'll note her absence. Who is this calling please?"

"This is my mother."

*-------------- Guaranteed to Roll Your Eyes --------------*

A Sunday School teacher wanted to use squirrels as an example of a diligent work ethic and being prepared. She started the lesson by saying, "I'm going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is." The children were excited to show her what they knew and leaned forward eagerly.

"I'm thinking of something that lives in trees and eats nuts." No hands went up. "It can be gray or brown and it has a long bushy tail." The children looked around the room at each other, but still no one raised a hand.

"It chatters and sometimes it flips its tail when it's excited?"

Finally one little boy shyly raised his hand. The teacher breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Okay, Michael. What do you think it is?"

"Well," said the boy, "I know the answer's supposed to be Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me."

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