On a quest to learn more about myself, I decided one day in early November to just chuck it all, to throw myself into something new, to stretch myself to see if there wasn’t something more inside me that I had not yet been made aware of and to get out there and explore my world.

Well, for the day anyway. Bill was golfing with his brother and would be gone for a few hours. I love him to the moon and back but like any sane, normal person I need and cherish my alone time, my down time, my ME time.

I ate a quick breakfast of toast and peanut butter and washed it down with my favorite juice: pineapple-orange. After making sure my cell phone and camera batteries were both charged and not an inkling of where it was exactly that I wanted to go, I jumped into the F-150. We purchased it more than ten years ago but drive it only occasionally, using it primarily for hauling things or whenever – like now, with Bill out of town – we need a second vehicle. Still, it has over 100,000 miles but runs like a champ. It has a sporty look to it (the letters STX, whatever that means, are painted on the rear side panels) and at first I was a little embarrassed by the loud, throaty rumble of the muffler. I wanted Bill to replace it with something quieter but after I drove it the first time, I kind of liked the rush of power and energy – and oomph!- that I felt behind the wheel, so I told my husband “Let’s keep it the way it is”.

Pulling out of the driveway, I still wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I toyed with visiting a gift shop not far from here that is set up in a grand old barn, filled with antiques and decorative items of interest. It’s a beautiful place and has some lovely things but I wasn’t really in the mood to shop. I just knew that I wanted to get out of the house, drive along some quiet, gravel road and perhaps stumble across something interesting, something unique, something funky, something beautiful. And to snap a few photos which is always my ultimate goal.

I headed south out of town and after a mile or two turned right onto the first virgin gravel road, that is, one I’d not been on before. The sky was overcast and it was only a little chilly. There was no breeze. It was calm and still. Fortunately, I encountered no traffic on my lonely stretch of gravel as I drove a few hundred yards, stopped and took a few photos, drove a few hundred yards further, stopped and snapped a few more. Sometimes I merely stopped, taking in the beauty of the not yet harvested corn fields or the sound of a small stream or to watch in wonder as a pheasant poked his way through the downed stalks, no doubt pecking for nuggets of corn on the ground.

I didn’t shoot any real good photographs that day – it would have been nice if the sun had been more cooperative and there was some blue sky and wispy clouds to frame and complement the shots I did take – but the peace and solitude of this brief excursion was memorable, and enjoyable, nonetheless.

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Dull, dreary, brown, mousy and nondescript…

That pretty much describes the month of November.  After the colorful leaves of fall find their way to the earth below, we’re pretty much left with bare, lifeless trees in a monotone landscape.

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It occurs to me that November, the second to last month of the year, shares the same boring distinction – as far as months go – as that of the second month of the year, February. True, November has Thanksgiving, a wonderful American holiday and February can boast of Valentines Day, a commercially-driven day for lovers but weather-wise there is not much to recommend either one. Both have their fair share of gloomy, sunless days and cold-for-the-season temperatures with both pesky winds and unwelcome precipitation.

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Still, both months have merit. November is the gateway to the holiday season while February signals the halfway point of winter with the promise of spring soon to follow. For now, however, with the end of daylight savings time and the transition to cooler temps and the promise (threat?) of snow in the wings, early November can be fickle and unreliable. Nothing to do but hunker down, enjoy those hot, comforting beverages, stir up a pot of chili, burrow into a good book or catch up on those recorded TV programs and series – Orange, House of Cards, Breaking Bad – you’ve been wanting to watch (or watch again). Now, before the busy season is upon us, sit back and make the best of it!

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Watching the marching band perform pre-game today (another cringe-worthy loss – don’t ask), I snapped this photo of their – what DO they call these things: hats? helmets? head gear? – anyway, the Things They Wear On Their Heads – lined up like so many soldiers standing at attention on a brick wall near Alumni Hall. I like the orderly display of these elegantly adorned uniform pieces, each one outfitted in grand fashion with shiny medallion, gold braid and fluffy white plume.

The cadence of drums and clanging of cymbals, the cheers of the crowd and the pep squad routines all help to fire up the faithful before every game. The crowd claps and cheers their enthusiastic approval under a sunny sky that helps to offset the chilly, breezy November air. Our college mascot, on display throughout the huge tailgate lot on flags, banners, party RV’s, stocking caps and jackets, with our school colors of cardinal and gold, provides a colorful backdrop to bag toss games, grilling, canopies and liquid spirits. The carnival atmosphere, steeped in tradition, brings friends and family together for every home game ensuring fond memories for years to come – even when the win-loss record (such as is the case this particular season) is horribly out of balance.

Go Cyclones!

The light this time of year is like no other.  At certain times of day, whether early morning, late afternoon or early evening, I’ll glance up from whatever it is that I’m doing and be utterly transfixed by the soft glow sidling across furniture, covering walls and streaming through the windows.  It is simply lovely as it casts everything in its path in the mellow gleaming of these autumn days.  Whether you choose to bask in its warmth or grab your camera for some great photos, don’t fail to appreciate the light in these precious weeks and short months before the gray and gloom of late fall descends upon us and skies turn white and angry with ice, wind and snow.   Yes, the light is gorgeous this time of year and it only serves to amplify the reds, yellows, golden browns and purple beauty of this – my favorite – the very best season of all!