Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Falling Backward

Please stop me. I have grandiose ideas of decking out the house for autumn – gourds, pumpkins, wheat, corn, maybe a festive wreath of colorful foliage. This is what happens when I consume too much Martha Stewart, Real Simple and Better Homes & Gardens. I imagine cute little tin buckets wrapped with burlap ribbon and filled with gold and burgundy flowers. The reality is a faded, rumpled plaid tablecloth decorated with a few drips of candle wax. Little pumpkins and other such decorative items end up sprawled over the surface and buried under mail and the paper detritus the girls shed daily.

I love autumn, though. I have fond memories of childhood autumns, which is kind of odd because in South Georgia autumn isn’t a very colorful season. Leaves go brown and fall off – none of the lovely reds, yellows and oranges you see further north. But autumn was when school began (and end to the incredibly hot, oppressive, boring summer), and the state fair brought its diesel-soaked excitement to town, and Halloween – well what kid doesn’t like Halloween? Autumn here is so much prettier.

In previous years we made a few attempts at some regional activities. Apple picking was something of a bust. Turns out that you can’t just pick apples; you have to pay an entry fee to the orchard, which is a-bustlin with cloggers, food vendors, petting zoos, “museums” (some rusty farm implements in a ramshackle old building), kiddie events, and very long lines to the one restroom. My kids declared the curly fried potatoes a success but weren’t much interested in the actual apple picking process. Another year we went to a corn maze. That was my bright idea. Since when did hayrides mean perching uncomfortably on some bales behind a noisy tractor, breathing in diesel fumes? Although we had a map, we had some problems navigating the maze. Firecracker gave out and had to be carried, and Dear Husband started wheezing. Nature does that to him.

Fall is also the time when every school and church has some sort of festival. I inevitably forget when they are. There are also school fundraisers, which is why I’m getting those issues of Martha Stewart. You know, I found a recipe in one of them for blueberry ice pops that – I kid you not – called for you to steep white pine needles in hot water. PINE NEEDLES, folks. That lady is sick.

Anyway, I now know the true joy of the season – the fall television premiers.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Caching Out

This weekend we decided to try something new. I blame the wine from the night before. Dear Husband and I had heard about this cool international venture called "geocaching," and it sounded so much like a big Easter egg hunt that we had to try it. I should mention right here that no jelly beans are involved, which sort of makes it not as good as an Easter egg hunt to me.

Anyway, if you have never heard of geocaching, here's what happens. Someone puts a log bog and some doohickies in a cannister or lockbox or box disguised as a log and hides it. They record the coordinates and post the location on this big bulletin board at, with a few hints. Then people go looking for it, navigating with a GP, and if they find it they put their name in the log book, trade something in the box for something they have, and put the cache back the way they found it for future geocachers. See, it's a sort of international scavenger hunt.

So we thought, "Wow, this is neat! What a great family activity!"

The first cache was at a pharmacy right around the corner from us. All the comments mentioned what an easy find it was - a park and grab - perfect for a first time. Well, we wandered around the parking lot for an hour poking at the grass verges, peeking through the fence, trying to avoid looking like miscreants. Firecracker and I bought candy. It went like this for several more caches. We spent a long time staring in disbelief at a lamp post in front of a church. By the fourth stop DramaQueen had written up a sign and stuck it to the window - "I hate geocaching." We persevered and finally found a tupperware box near a bookstore. Rather DramaQueen fell upon it with a crow of triumph. By that time we didn't really care who saw us. If people wondered why we were dragging a plastic box out from under the shrubbery, they refrained from asking.

I gather that geocaching is particularly popular along hiking paths and such, part of getting out in nature and so forth. Given that the girls think nature should be thoroughly washed and everything "icky" removed from it, I'm not sure they will go for that. They might do it if they could wear gloves and a hazmat suit. I myself felt a bit woozy when I turned over a piece of wood and ants pured out across the grass.

I wonder if anyone has ever found a corpse doing this? I'm waiting for geocaching to turn up on CSI. If it hasn't already.

See that little red line peeking out? Yeah, well we didn't see anything like that.