A Day Of Fall Exploration Was Good For My Soul


For months, Mark and I have been working hard to get our Missouri antiques store up, running and known around town as a viable contender. We must’ve done something right, because the front room is 100 percent full. So, the latest project is to paint the back room and replace its stained ceiling tile so we can expand the retail space.

But when we woke up last Sunday morning, I turned to Mark and said, “I want a day off.” He sighed… with relief. Thanking our lucky stars that we had found someone who wanted to work weekends, we ate a leisurely breakfast, hopped in the car and took off for parts unknown.

Oh, it was wonderful.

The leaves were orange and red and yellow and, when lit from behind by the sun, you truly had to marvel at the resplendence of nature. I generally take nature totally for granted — like TV and the microwave — but these leaves really insisted on being noticed.

Whenever I stepped out of the car, they crunched loudly underfoot. They clattered down the sidewalk when the wind took them. They were noisy as well as bright. The air, too, was just crisp enough to be noticed. You took it in with an “ooh” sort of feeling. You became aware of your lungs and appreciated all they do for you.

Because it was chilly, some people had wood smoke coming out of their chimneys, filling the air with a heavenly scent. You could smell it; you could see it; you could even taste it. Before I knew it, I was craving barbecue — a nice, fat barbecue sandwich with fries and baked beans and a pickle spear. Yum!

Eventually we found the perfect restaurant. The building was charming because it used to be the local train station. Across the rail yard, in what used to be an old brick equipment shed, meat was being barbecued until it fell off the bone. The pit boss (as I like to call him) would then wrap it in aluminum foil and rush it into the kitchen of the restaurant. After a while, he let me come in and take a look around inside the shed because seeing my face pressed into the screen door was creeping him out.

After lunch, we checked out the local antique stores (I got Mark to stop the car by using the phrase “market research”), and I scored a chalkware Santa in his sleigh, as well as three celluloid reindeer. My customers will love them.

We headed home during a fabulous sunset and, that night, Mark and I went to bed relaxed and happy. We had needed that.

The next morning, when I got up, the house seemed cold. The thermometer outside read 23 degrees. Big wads of snow-encrusted fall leaves were straining to stay on their trees and failing miserably, spiraling to the ground in defeat and landing with dejected, wet-sounding plops. Driving was dangerous. People were being urged to stay home. A car on our street had flipped onto its side and slid into a fire hydrant.

Mark woke up and shuffled to the front window. I held my breath, but I knew what was coming.

“Drive me to the airport,” he said.

It was time for that snowbird to fly south.