Frolicking in the Autumn Mist


Every year it seems, I write a blog about autumn. Last year I wrote The Warmth of the Sun, the year before, The Intimations of Autumn, and others that include Autumn Days are the Best, Autumn and Joe Montana and Delicious Autumn! My Soul is Wedded to it. There may be others as well. Evidently, I love autumn. What is it about this season that produces such nostalgia, such longing, such remembrance of things past?

Monday I was in a kinda funk. So to feel better, I played around on my phone, checking out social media. I posted some of my favorite pictures, and updated one of the aforementioned autumn themed blogs. Still feeling a little out-of-sorts, maybe I was looking for “my own spot to stand,” to quasi-quote Jim Weatherley lyrics. I stumbled on some very cool Autumn themed Facebook pages, joined a few and was greeted by other fall-a-philes.

Finding these pages reminded me of my love for this season and some of my favorite memories. As I frolicked, like Puff, in this kind of autumn mist of misty-colored memories of the far past, my out-of-sorts sorted itself out. When I reconnected with things I loved and others that loved them too, I got re-grounded. There’s more than just memories here.

I consider myself in the autumn time of my life, being past 50. And as I age, I appreciate this season more and more. I know my autumns are numbered, as all of ours are, and I’m determined to extract all the joy and pleasure I can from its colors, its celebrations, its sensations, its weather and its memories. True pleasures are few and far between.

However, C.S. Lewis said something interesting in The Weight of Glory, when speaking of a universal sense of elusive longing, a longing which appears to be related to nostalgia, but not necessarily so:

We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter.

Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.

These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire….For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

I believe this is what autumn does to me…those good memories I have are really like beautiful phantoms. If I went back to those days, granted many joyful moments remain, but the beauty that Mr. Lewis speaks of, the longing, the saudades according to the Portuguese, sehnsucht to the Germans, is elusive; it is a reminder and longing for something else. It’s the thing I long for when I look for a home.  Mr. Lewis continues:

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is a bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become a part of it…

For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendor of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.

At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.

In the meantime, and during my remaining autumns, I will frolick in the autumn mist of my happy childhood memories of Santa Rosa, my summers at the Russian River. I will remember school, mud football, Halloween, Thanksgivings and Christmases with my grandmother. The old memories. I will also remember, misty-eyed, the lean Christmases with my babies, listening to Evie’s Come On, Ring Those Bells while decorating the house and making homemade Christmas presents. Running around now with four grandchildren, I have NO IDEA how I managed to tend to ten kids. Grace abounding, glory to God….seriously.

And as I remember, I understand swirling about those memories are gleanings of a far away country, a place where He is preparing for me an eternal abiding place. Something wonderful this way comes….

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Revelation 21:1-5

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

C.S. Lewis – The Weight of Glory

The Warmth of the Sun


It’s one of my favorite Beach Boys songs. Like “In My Room”, it’s haunting melodies underscore the quintessential feeling and mood one feels while drinking in the congenial rays of a friendly sun. As autumn dawns, the warmth of the sun, when it does shine on the Northern California coast, especially in Indian Summer, is a truly invigorating, kind and soothing phenomenon. Unlike the brutal summer sun, as welcoming as it is after a cruel winter, it becomes unyielding and unbearable when it beats down into triple digits.

Today is the beginning of fall. Like my fellow fall-a-philes, we look forward to the shorter days which are bordered by crispy cold mornings and brisk evenings while filled with a warmth of the sun that beguiles the season. Autumn is “the season between summer and winter comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of September, October, and November or as reckoned astronomically extending from the September equinox to the December solstice,” or as we “poets” muse,  “a period of maturity or incipient decline”. While the days shorten, the year faces its end and the leaves fall and die; this season, and the warmth of its days, for some reason invigorates the soul and all its creative impulses.

The colors associated with this season construe earth, nature, home, if you will, at least to me. Browns beckon us to the dust from which we were formed. Burnt yellows and oranges warm our hearts like a small fire. Deep forest evergreens envy their deciduous cousins whose deaths make such a spectacular display.

It’s been a tough couple years, years fraught with demanding work, family discord, parental decline, loved ones’ depression and, sadly, death.  So much so I haven’t been able to appreciate the little rays of warmth that have shone through the storm clouds. But as I get older, I am learning to appreciate those very rays, those rays which are, indeed like photosynthesis, life giving.

My office is away from the main hub of activity where I work. I have to walk over to that office a couple times a day. Despite the cool summer we had on the Peninsula, many mornings the sun would shine in such a gentle fashion that I’d just look up and let the warmth of the sun wash over me.  Like the plant converts the sun’s energy into life, so the rays from the sun convert my sadness into joy,  my darkness into light and my pandemonium into peace. It’s amazing that this free resource of peace surround us daily.

I took a little trip up north for just a day. I needed to get away and stop – just stop – no activities but sitting on the pier, lounging in the river and soaking up the trees, the birds, the smells of days gone by and, of course, the gentle end-of-summer sun. I told my niece I was enjoying the ministry of nature. The difficulty of the past few years reminds me of a story from Mrs. Cowman’s devotional, Springs in the Valley.

In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Coolies had been engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. On inquiry as to the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.

This whirling rushing life which so many of us live does for us what that first march did for those poor jungle tribesmen. The difference: THEY KNEW what they needed to restore life’s balance; too often, WE DO NOT.   –July 11

One of the reasons why I like photography is that I can capture some of these free resources that surround me whether it is a spectacular Pacifica sunset, a cool morning by some “still waters”, a plucky stellar jay, Erin’s sunflowers or the last blackberries of the summer, to name a few. All these little things, like the warmth of the sun and the colors of autumn, help me sustain my life and perspective in a big way, and allow my soul to catch up with my body.









A little girl sat perched on a dining room chair peering out the window into a billowing storm. Wiping her breath’s condensation off the window, she began to conceive of harrowing adventures that could occur on a stormy day like this one. It had rained all day; this fact kept all the five Moore children indoors. But it wasn’t going to be long before the enticing storm would capture two little girls for an afternoon of excitement.

She sat there a little longer before she got up and went to the bedroom she shared with her six-year old sister.

“What are you doing, Donna?” her little sister, Linda, asked while Donna changed into overalls. Eight-year old Donna looked at her sister thoughtfully. Linda was a beautiful little girl with long, brown curly hair which her mother kept in braids.

“Where to?”

Donna eyed her sister, thinking what benefit could be had dragging Linda along. Then it occurred to her that Linda kept a substantial amount of change in her piggy bank.

“Well,” Donna said in perfect recitation of lines she had prepared, “do you want to come with me?”

“Oh, yes, where are we going?” Linda gleamed.

“I want to take a walk in the storm and get some hot chocolate at Quik-Stop, and maybe some french fries. Still wanna come?”

“Oh, yeah, I’ll go ask Mommy if we can go.”

“No,” Donna grabbed her arm, “don’t bother Mom, she won’t mind. I already asked her.” She lied so easily.

Linda threw on some clothes, Donna took a whiff of some socks on the floor and decided they were clean enough for another day’s use.

“Oh, by the way,” Donna said cautiously as they put their keds on, “I don’t have any money, do you?” A seasoned snoop, she knew perfectly well the exact contents of Linda’s piggy bank.

“I have money in my piggy bank, we can use that.”

“Sounds good, let’s go.” Linda emptied her bank, and Donna pocketed the change.

They grabbed their identical green rain jackets, wrapped their scarves around their necks and made their way to the front door. Their mother was in the family room watching “General Hospital”, and their brothers were in their room playing “Battleship” and listening to Beatles records. Their baby brother was fast asleep in his room. The coast was clear.

“I want to say goodbye to Mommy,” Linda said sweetly.

“No, don’t, don’t bother her, she watching her show. Come on, let’s go now before the storm passes.” Donna opened the front door and they went out.

The wind whistled and whipped around them as they stood on their small porch, the rain splashed at them, they covered their heads and made their way toward Vallejo Street.

Alvarado Avenue was the small and quaint block they lived on. It was a wonderful community. All the children knew and played with each other. Most attended the elementary school around the corner. It was a block of about ten houses on each side of the street. Every 4th of July, the families would throw a block party. Picnic and ping-pong tables were set up in the middle of the street, there were best-decorated bike contests, egg throwing contests, and watermelon eating contests. Everyone would be outside where all the families would pile lots of food on the picnic tables.

But, summer had passed, and during the winter, everyone stayed inside when it rained. And, on this day, the young Moore girls embarked on a great journey, a journey of about a mile and a half to the Quik-Stop.

“Are we going to walk past Sabin’s house?” Linda asked with a shy hope, blinking through the rain. “He lives by the bridge, and if we go that way and around the corner, maybe I could see him?

“I don’t know, I guess we could.” Donna replied nonchalantly. She had her mind set on hot chocolate and french fries.

As they continued to walk in the pouring rain, Linda began to act nervous. She had a crush on Sabin for over two months since they started school. After walking three blocks on Vallejo, they turned left onto a small muddy trail that led to the bridge that crossed the creek. Sabin’s house was two houses away from the bridge.

“Do you want me to see if he’s home?”

“No, no, I couldn’t see him, I like him too much.”

“But, you said you wanted to go this way. Golly, don’t be so stupid, if you like that boy, don’t you think you would want to see him?”

“I guess so.”

“OK, I’ll go to the door and ask for him. Maybe Matt’s home.” Donna was harboring a little crush on Sabin’s brother herself.

Linda began fidgeting as they approached the door, “Shut up,” Donna said, ringing the doorbell. Sabin answered.

“Hey Donna, what’s going on?”

“Uh, nothing,” Donna replied, “uhm, me and my sister are goin’ to Quik-Stop. Hey, do you know my sister, Linda?” Donna turned around and Linda was gone.

“I think so, she’s a grade below me.” Sabin asked. Linda was hiding behind one of the entry pillars.

“Linda, comeer..!”

“Uh..uh, hi.” Linda stuttered.

“Hey,” Sabin smiled, “can I come with you guys? I’m so bored.”

“Sure,….is Matt home?”

“No, he’s at Gene’s…hold on let me tell my sister.”

“Ewww, he’s coming with us…” Donna teased her sister. Linda waited angelically for her prince. Sabin returned and grabbed his coat and baseball cap.

Together they headed back to the bridge to get to Hoen Avenue. Linda was so enamored with the very presence of Sabin, she couldn’t walk straight.

“Hey, Linda,” Sabin asked, “isn’t Joe Miller in your class?”

“Oh, yes, I do.” she said breathlessly, “he sits right behind me. He gets in trouble all the time when he pulls my braids.”

“Oh, so you’re that girl, I think he likes you.” Sabin smiled.

Repulsed, Linda said, “He’s an ugly boy, I don’t like him at all. I like someone else.” She added with a twinkle in her eye.

As they approached the bridge, the trail became muddier. Linda was trying to step over a big rock when her foot slipped, and she fell down the side of the trail along the bank of the creek. She screamed, and grabbed some plants halfway down the bank.

“Donna, Donna….” she yelled.

“What are you doing, you’re gonna get dirty.” Her sister was annoyed.

“I fell,” she began to cry, “I’m slipping, help me.”

It was too slippery for Donna and Sabin to make their way down the bank, then Donna remembered when her brother was stuck in a sewer drain, her mom called the fire department.

“Sabin, run back to your house and call the fire department, I’ll wait here with Linda.”

“Do you want me to call your mom too?” Sabin offered.

“Nooooo, just the fire department.”

Sabin ran off, and Donna tried to comfort her sister. The fire engine arrived in less than 15 minutes with Sabin running behind. Two tall fireman jumped out of the truck and made their way to Linda. Donna immediately fell in love with both of them. In less than a minute, they pulled Linda up and she forgot all about her romantic pursuits, these guys were her heroes.

“Thank you,” she said to the fireman with blue eyes. She wiped the mud from her face and jacket.

“You’re welcome, little lady; but, what on earth brought you and your friends out on a day like this?

“Well, ” Linda began all flustered because he spoke directly to her.

Donna butted in, “We came out today to get some hot chocolate and french fries, and maybe have a little adventure. She’s my sister, and this is our friend, Sabin.”

“You’re not going to tell our parents, are you?” she added with feigned innocence.

The firemen had daughters of their own and could spot foul play from the beginning.

“I think we should call your parents,” said the other fireman.

“My mom’s not home,” Sabin said without any worry.

“Uhm, uh, couldn’t we go get some hot chocolate and talk about if you need to call our parents,” Donna nervously negotiated. “It’s raining and I’m cold, and I sure could use some hot chocolate, and poor little Linda must be really cold after falling in the mud.”

The firemen laughed out loud, but it was Linda’s tender look that stole their hearts, so they agreed to the older girl’s plans.

“OK, we’ll take you for a ride in the fire truck, get some hot chocolate and then drop you guys off at your homes, how does that sound?

All three jumped up and yelled, “Oh yeah…that would be a blast.”

As they drove to Quik-Stop, Donna was thinking how to avoid getting in trouble when she got home.

After they had hot chocolate, the firemen dropped off Sabin.

“Thanks for a great adventure, Donna. Thank you, Firemen.” Sabin waved as he went into his house.

“You can drop us off here at the corner, OK?” Donna suggested.

“What for? We’ll take you girls home.”

“Please,” Donna begged.

“Only if you promise to tell your mom the truth when you get home. Is that a deal?”

Yea, that’s a deal,” she agreed and they shook on it.

The girls climbed out of the fire truck at the corner of Vallejo and Alvarado, the firemen gave their mother a call from Quik-Stop so she was standing at the porch waiting for her daughters.

She waved at the firemen, saying “Thank you.”

Donna told her mother everything, and to this day, the punishment she got was worth the adventure she had on the day they went for hot chocolate.

Intimations of Autumn

young pumpkin

I never liked August. Too hot, too long, and school couldn’t come fast enough. My daughter can’t wait for school to start, she’s like me. But my sister, on the other hand, loves..loves summer. Any time I may hint that autumn is around the corner, she growls at me. This blog is not for her.

I like August a little bit more now since my son was born smack dab in the middle of the month. His birth, my third, was going to be a casual affair. My sister and some friends came to witness his birth. We were all hanging out, laughing, waiting…well, they were. I was in labor. As much as I like people, labor is not the time to hang out. I didn’t even like the dad around.

So, August, with the exception of Eugene’s birthday, is one of my least favorite months. Until…the weather begins to change. Yesterday was a nice day. One coworker commented the weather was just weird. But, I’ve lived in the Bay Area long enough to know that in August there are days when the wind stills and the humidity rises. Some of the residual tropic weather from the south sweeps north just long enough to flirt with us, spook us (earthquake-weatherish) and, of course, make us sweat. As I try not to complain about the short discomfort the heat brings, I am reminded that this is the first intimation of autumn. It’s coming. Yay!

Another intimation, which like Christmas is coming sooner and sooner, is the fall display racks at JoAnn’s and the back-to-school items at every store. I think I saw fall items at JoAnn’s in June…a little too soon, uhm, no, not for autumn colors, decorations, all the physical reminders of cooler weather, holidays, fires and baking. Autumn is the coziest of seasons. The holidays beckon the family together, cooking becomes a high priority, and crafting is resurrected. All the things I LOVE to do. And when those activities subside, the shorter days give way to  longer, pleasurable nights of reading. What is not to love?

Finally, the most exciting intimation of autumn is the falling off of those early victims of the deciduous cycle. I see them huddled in corners, sparsely strewn on walkways, waiting for the rest of their kind to heap upon them. Not too many piles now, but I have found a few to stomp through. What is it about the crunching of dead leaves, the crackling, the swishing that is so comforting? As a young girl, I remember so clearly walking on a damp road in Santa Rosa, through the leaves, acorns and pebbles; it is one of my fondest memories…so simple, so beautiful, so soothing, I can still smell the damp earth, hear the crunching, feel the cold. I know a therapist who uses stones for her patients, just touching  and caressing the stone brings relief for their anxiety. That’s what walking through autumn leaves does for me.

Enjoy the rest of your summer. I’ll sit here and continue to spy out other intimations of autumn.

Autumn Days are the Best


“Blues of Falling Leaf” by Leonid Afremov, used with permission.

In “Miss Congeniality”, sweet, innocent, slightly obtuse Miss Rhode Island responded when asked to describe her perfect date, she sweetly responded, “…April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.”  I must disagree with Miss Rhode Island and submit the perfect date would probably land between September 23 and December 21, preferably in October before the time change. I was walking to the main office this morning and was illumined with the fact that autumn days are indeed the best days.

The heat of summer has mellowed to a cozy warmth – Indian Summer excepted – and is coupled with cool evenings that automatically compels one to bake, build fires and read books. For the highly energetic, much sewing can be done. These days are equally split, for the most part, between night and day, approximately 12 hours each. I can’t get enough of autumn days. Not only is the season packed with the best holidays of the year, it is a time conducive for contemplation and meditation.

I am not saying anything new to other fall-a-philes. The air is magically refreshing, the wind delightful, and, as you can see, the sunsets are off the hook. Spring is nice, but it’s still too cold. The boys of spring are putting their gear away, the boys of autumn are in full swing and basketball has hit the courts again.

No “Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days of Summer”, no “April Showers” or  “Winter Wonderland”, these are the days for “Autumn Leaves”, “September Song” and “Four Strong Winds.” I am not alone in my admiration, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I feel I never have enough of in autumn.” Washington Irving in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” wrote,

It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet…As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye…ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn.

Finally, Elizabeth J. Eames in “An Autumn Reverie” echoes the sentiment of all true lovers of autumn,

Autumn! sad, sighing, yet most lovely Autumn, again art thou here; and again with feelings “pleasant but mournful to my soul,” do I greet thy return. And the strangest feelings of mingled pleasure and pain are awakened at thy approach, though thou excitest emotions less rapturous and fancies less playful, yet hath thy presence for me a solace and a spell unfelt amid the greener verdure, brighter sunbeams and more fragrant flowers of Summer. Dearer to me than the clustering roses of June, are they withered stalk and falling leaf…. And for the heart, the busy, changeful human heart, thou hast a thousand stirring chords, whose vibrations awaken with an electric influence its slumbering sensibilities, and whose sympathetic music responds with all the truth of an echo.


When nature heaves her dying breath in this glorious season, it leaves us breathless with her beauty. Breathless as she blows toward the tomb of winter, the tomb of the past year, the womb of the next.



Autumn and Joe Montana


September 2015

My niece, Katie, ran into someone very special several years ago at her job. My father called me and asked, “Guess who Katie ran into?” I wasn’t in the mood for any guessing games; there was a heat wave, the kids were going crazy, and I’m sure a million other things were going wrong. “I don’t know, who?” I surrendered. “Come on, guess.” “I don’t know, Arnie?” “Bigger than Arnold.” Oh, great, who was bigger than Arnold here in California? “I have no idea.” “His initials are J.M.” I tried to think of someone and gave up. The only J.M. I could remember, was John Muenster, my Pricing Department boss at Hapag Lloyd. “I have no idea, I have no brain cells left to even try and guess.”

Joe Montana.” He whispered.

“No way!” I exclaimed, “no way!” “How? When?” He went on and told me the details of the encounter. I was genuinely impressed and very envious.

Joe Montana. The man who I think is the greatest football player in my lifetime. I couldn’t believe it. This man and his extraordinary ability on the field found their way into our family’s existence. I’ve never met him nor ever will. But the thought of Joe Montana not only conjures up images of great football, but also images of intimate, warm memories of autumns gone by. His ball playing added color and vibrancy to my little life here in Northern California.

Today is the first day of autumn, and it’s hard not to recall the autumns of my youth without Joe there, albeit on the sidelines in the game of my life. See, I love fall, I love Halloween and Thanksgiving. I love oranges, and browns, and forest greens. I love the way the wind changes during Indian Summer with the sweet Santa Anas blowing off the East Bay hills. I loved playing and watching football, so for many years, Joe Montana was a part of those colorful memories.

When I was very young, our family went up to the Russian River for our Thanksgiving holiday. My father had a cabin up there; but we went to my uncle’s cabin for the big meal. That cozy cottage has become a shrine in my memory. The dining room table, enclosed on three sides by three benches where we five kids sat below a shelf lined with Italian wine bottles, was where we had our Thanksgiving dinner; I can still see my little Irish grandmother puttering around in the small kitchen, tasting from one pot or another and even offering us some of her mince meat pie. We gently refused. An intimate fire always warmed the living room and off to one corner was a small twin bed where I slept on my rare overnight visits to Uncle Bill’s cabin. Near the bed was a bookshelf, filled with all sorts of literary treasures, and when I was there, I was in heaven.

You know, when you’re young you’re not conscious of the beauty around you, those moments go by, but somehow they’re stamped somewhere in your mind and when the stresses of the present weigh you down, you look back and those memories have become jewels. I wish I spent more time with my grandmother, I wish I could remember her voice, her face – I wish I could ask her about when my father was little (probably would explain a lot), about my grandfather and about her.

But, where does Joe come into this picture? Well, my father played ball for the Navy and then went on to coach. So football was a big part of our lives. Every Thanksgiving guaranteed two things: that incredible meal and tons of football. Football was the only thing on TV from Thursday morning until Sunday night, and if you didn’t bring a book or something to occupy your time, you were destined to watch it all. One year I tallied how many games I had watched: 11; I guess that doesn’t seem like too many now with cable and ESPN.

The highlight of the weekend was always the Notre Dame game. One year some upstart 3rd string quarterback came in and won the game for the Irish. We didn’t know then a legend was in the making. Watching those games with my dad with the redwood logs crackling in the fire, rain pattering on the roof and my mother baking something delicious in the kitchen all at the time seem so average, so typical, so mundane; now, they are photographs in my mind, colors and flavors of who I am.

When I think of Joe Montana, I am flooded with these beautiful memories. Were they idyllic? Absolutely not, there were darker shades that mar some of these memories, but strange as our memories are, those hues fade a bit to the background.

But Joe Montana, like football, transcends seasons. His presence would reappear in bolder, more spectacular strokes with that catch in 1982. After that unbelievable Super Bowl, I went to the celebration downtown to pass out religious tracts. San Francisco hadn’t been rocked with such a force since April of 1906. That was the place to be on January 24, 1982. And in my own life, I too was rocked, with a divine force, after I had recently embraced a living faith in Christianity.

But, that happiness in January of 1982 was just a deposit of things to come. He took San Francisco to the Super Bowl three more times. He catapulted the 49ers into the exclusive NFL club with teams like Green Bay, Miami and Pittsburgh, teams that had won multiple championships. Time after time after time, with seconds to go and touchdowns to make, Joe, with his cool expertise, would go in and do the job.

Football, as you know, is a manly, messy, bloody sport. The sport that gives men license to beat the hell out of each other and gives us fans an outlet for adulation for our team and hatred for our opponents. With the language of longshoremen and the manners of adolescents, Joe Montana took these elements of the game and, effortlessly, made them beautiful. He is an artist of the utmost ability. After he retired, I pretty much quit watching the game. I caught a few Super Bowls with the kids and that was fun, but no comparison.

But after witnessing who I believe is the greatest to play the game during my lifetime, there is no desire to watch anymore. Thank you, Joe, for the beauty and grace that you created out of pigskin and mud, and gracing our autumns with such spectacular color.

joe montana

‘Delicious Autumn! My Very Soul is Wedded to It …’


September 2019

As a writer, my deepest fear is that the well of ideas will dry up, that the cistern is indeed broken and there is nothing left to share or write about. I don’t think I am alone with that fear; I think many artists feel that way. Before I freeze up and abandon all writing projects because I think I’m a fraud, I go to my treasure chest of ideas, my childhood memories. There are so many real and imagined memories from growing up, that almost each one in itself is a seed for a column. It is my savings account, if you will.

In the ‘60s, my family lived in Santa Rosa for an idyllic five years. We lived on a short street next to the school where passions for poetry, music and geography were born. All the neighborhood kids played together, and I was devastated when we had to move. Apple orchards, sardines in a can and block parties did not accompany us to the City.

One morning, I was walking on Hoen Avenue. I don’t know if I was walking home from St. Eugene’s or to Sambo’s. It was fall, it had sprinkled that morning or the night before, and the quiet road was still damp and peppered with acorns. This memory I cherish because I believe this is the moment I fell in love with autumn. I clearly remember the crunching of the dry leaves which had been umbrelled by the large trees and the crackling of the gravel under my shoes, the cool air was kept out by my warm jacket. The smell of the wet earth and crushed leaves accentuated this brief memory. For 50 years, this ancient memory continues to ignite this glorious season each September.

I echo George Eliot’s praise, Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

The fact that autumn coincides with a return to school only compounds my joy. I loved school growing up, and to go back with this season right around the corner only heightens both experiences. I remember one fall, I think I was in 3rd grade, and I had to write a story for class. I wrote a five page story about Frankenstein, the Wolfman and Dracula. I was so proud of this writing; I wish I had kept it.

Perhaps my best fall memory was when I was living in Half Moon Bay in the ‘70s. I was working for a realtor during the 18% interest rate times, and business was, subsequently,  slow, so slow that I was dying of boredom. Luckily, my boss, Dick Stahl, let me read….sweet. I read the entire trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, some of the Bible and old favorites from high school.

This time of my life was filled with floral skirts, clogs and Neil Young music. The Pumpkin Festival was coming, and pumpkins and produce were everywhere. The landscape was punctuated with orange in freshly tilled, earthy smelling fields, and stocks of corn husks and scarecrows dotted the porches of all the businesses. Slices of pumpkin pie were had at the bakery by Cunha’s Market, and daily I was in heaven with an Original Johnny’s cheeseburger. I lived there for one season, but it was one of the most magical seasons of my life. Half Moon Bay is beautiful in the fall.

Even this fall morning, when I opened the door, the off-shore wind boldly and warmly greeted me. Dancing leaves swirled around me like giddy children and wafts of jasmine intoxicated me. It’s going to be a nice day.